If technology is a reformer, then Artificial Intelligence is a mediator. Right from businesses and jobs to media and entertainment and retail, Artificial Intelligence has left no stone unturned. AI has transformed almost all areas of human lives. So we can assume that even sports, one of humanity’s oldest forms of organized play, won’t go untouched. And nowadays the big data is being used in the sports domain on a global level- that has shown the new wave of revolution and transformation in the world of sports.
Not everything in the world can be quantified, and if there is something that can be quantified can be predicted with precision through data analytics and AI. The world of sports has abundant and quantifiable results that made it perfect for the application of Artificial Intelligence. However, the integration of Artificial Intelligence in the sports domain has become a common sight in the past few years. And considering all the opportunities and positive impact it has brought through its capabilities, it will continue to encroach into the realm of the sports domain.
How AI helps in the Sports Industry?
AI technology in sports could be very helpful as it can be used to measure the performance o the player and could help improve the players’ health ,especially at the time of injury. AI has now been integrated with a large number of sports for better understanding and planning. The players and sports organizations nowadays require the most developed and advanced technology to keep up a good pace. This has evolved the scope of AI developed organizations that helped the sports industries with its unique features in the following ways
- Prediction of game
- Development of strategies fan engagement
- Real-time insights
The companies use AI technologies such as predictive analytics to forecast the result of world cup tournaments. For instance, in cricket, enhanced techniques are used to track the bowling speed and the proximity of the ball getting in contact with the bat. The data is transferred and is accumulated from the tool incorporated in the used materials like metrics.
The parameters of the speed of the ball, a graph showing delivery dimensions are displayed.
AI Applications in Sports
Scouting and Recruitment
Sports teams are nowadays using the individual data of the player to identify his potential. It includes not only his runs, goals, or passes, but also more complex metrics that teams take into consideration. However, humans are confined to record this big data accurately. AI in sports has managed the entry of this big data and has promised a successful future because this procedure of recording and measuring the metrics has become very easy and more reliable. AI has the ability to store large current and historical data on the basis of which the future can be predicted. Additionally, it can also be used to determine the market value of a player to make the right offers.
Training and Performance Analysis
To perform well in any sports, the coaches and the sports team needs to analyze a large number of individual and collective data. This helps them to identify those areas where the player excels and where he lags. The metrics of the players varies depending upon their role in the team. The games have now become quantifiable, implying that they are now measurable. Artificial Intelligence thus co-relates qualitative and quantitative measures that predict the overall value of players.
AI can also be used to identify different tactics being used by opponents with their strengths and weaknesses helping coaches to plan according to their opposition assessment.
Maintaining Health, Fitness and Safety
We all are aware that AI has brought a massive change in the healthcare industry. The extraordinary features and magnetic diagnosis of AI can also be applied in the sports industry where health and fitness are of utmost importance. Sports teams invest heavily in the players so that they are mentally and physically sound as the victory depends upon the physical condition of players. So the sports team is integrated with the latest technological tool to assure the players’ fitness and health. AI has become the latest involvement in the team. AI analyzes various health parameters when players undergo physical tests on a regular basis. It detects movements for fitness evaluation and is also able to detect fatigue or stress-related signs helping the teams to keep themselves safe by taking necessary actions.
We have discussed earlier the use of variables in the sports industry, helping in the measurement of physical parameters. These wearables are of significant help that keep track of players’ physical health. The AI analyzes the data collected by the wearables enabling the sports team in maintenance of their players’ healthcare and preparing them for the future.
Media and the Fan Experience
A sports fan, when it is digitally connected, especially to his favorite sports, becomes the biggest sports influencer.
Stadium owners and teams are now able to provide
- Personalized digital experience via stadium apps
- Offers on mobile phones game information on digital boards
These have resulted in increased fan engagement and the generation of new revenue. Some of the AI application being used for fan engagement includes
1. Chatbots and Smart Assistants
Big sports teams like the NBA and NHL have started using virtual assistance so that they can respond to the fan inquiries with a wide range of topics that includes
- Life game information
- Team stats
- Parking and arena logistics
There will be human customer service representatives that will intervene if the chatbot is unable to provide an excellent response to any inquiry. Major tournament such as Wimbledon have integrated features of augmented reality with their chatbots to
- Help fans identify the players
- Provide key statistics
- Have hotspots in real-time
2. Video Highlights
It becomes difficult for sports industries to deliver the right content to serious sports fans and viewers. So they have to go through different devices and multiple screens so that they can align the app content from different contents they seek. Fans have different demands; for instance, some want profound commentary, others look for action-packed highlights, and some are even inclined towards behind the scenes compelling the industry to include the latest technologies for the reduction of fan workloads.
For instance, in the year 2018, the teams did not select the highlights manually in Wimbledon, but they took the help of IBM Watson to assist them in creating the content. IBM Watson basically is an AI technology that analyzes sentiment, movements, and crowd noise to determine the most interesting movements that should be included in the highlights. Thus, the highlights were highly at scale and were produced and delivered faster. AI ensures fair coverage that helps in catching the attention of fans who were initially reluctant to pay attention.
3. Automated Journalism
Most of the media outlets have now started using AI automation to increase their productivity. These platforms translate data into narratives by using natural language to provide good content to the fans.
It is an opportunity that frees the journalists from the complexities involved in the task, opening doors for efficiency, cost-cutting, truncating financial burden, by assuring qualitative coverage.
Before the Game – Bigger | Stronger | Faster | Better
1. Training & Coaching
With the emergence of new technology, the training and coaching aspects like game performance analysis, preparing the team for the competition, player health examination, etc. have also been changing rapidly. The AI sports application contains a large number of data about the training and performance of the player integrated with the information and knowledge from different coaches and different experts that will help the player to work upon his current sports techniques and make it more professional.
The information and knowledge the different sports scientists possess are uploaded in AI sports applications. Then this information is used in the training and education of the athletes resulting in better performance.
2. Wearables – Taking grassroots to the next level
The change in technology in recent years has brought a significant evolution in the sports industry. This evolution includes wearables like Fitbit or Apple watch that keep a record of your physical activities. This trend is becoming popular day by day. Not only the athletes but those who are inclined towards keeping themselves fit have started using wearables to track down their routine.
Thus, the future of the wearables is expected to go beyond thinking. These wearables will keep a record of your training performance, physical exertion. With the help of this compiled data, they will be able to recommend the type of nutrition, custom training program, other health concerns, etc.
Since the technology is costly, the wearable developers are trying to make it cheaper by truncating the costs so that it could be taken from the elite grounds to grassroots levels.
In-Game – Tell me what to do?
1. Virtual Umpires
Umpires play a significant role in the final decision making, especially when it comes to cricket. Sometimes the final review requires quick decision making with certainty. But this ends up consuming a lot of time and involving a third party. This not only extends the match timing but also casts away the audience’s excitement. In sports like cricket, tennis or football, DRS (decision review system) and VAR (video assistant referee) are already being used. These are based on slow-motion replays.
The emergence of technology has brought advancements in cameras as they are now integrated with AI software. This technology uses computer visualization for speed analysis, placements, ball movements, etc. This has lessened the need for the umpire in critical decision making, and the umpires can concentrate on the analysis of players on the field.
Developers are now working to provide the sports industry with AI integrated umpire glasses and earpieces so that they can make an accurate decision eliminating the time factor based on their vision.
The Virtual umpire approach has been developed for the enhancement in viewers’ comprehension of sports and to deliver those viewpoints that a normal television camera can not. This technology gets united with the broadcast coverage and provides profound real-time analysis.
For instance, the developers, with the help of AI, have evolved VECS, a virtual eye cricket system, to keep an eye on each and every movement on the field. Unnecessary reviewing, delaying in the match, etc. are all those factors that could be eliminated if there is a balance between the technology and the humans. So AI is bridging the gap between these two.
2. AI Assistant Coaches
AI development has brought a significant difference in the sports industry. Athletes can now perform with more accuracy and can work on strategies. The AI integration helps in better understanding of the game by analyzing common mistakes and improving old school tactics quickly. The powerful AI application will be able to perform some unimaginable things like providing the information to the coach in the middle of the game in real-time about the accurate matchups, monitoring and forecasting the contribution of the player in the game, altering the game plans according to the needs and whatnot. The machine here will take all the crucial decisions, and the coaches will just communicate the decision and ensure its enforcement. Developers are also working on adding features like realistic human communication and added emotion to completely eliminate the need of the coach in decision communication in the near future.
Using new technology can be helpful to remove a cover from strategic insights that were not previously viewed and achieved, and due to these strategic insights, a team can achieve the desired goals.
Every team and a team player is working to take their game a notch higher, requiring deeper insights. The fans are becoming more demanding as they want a more personalized experience and functional connectivity. AI can channelize all these demands.
AI technology is growing faster and has become an essential part of the sports industry as it improves player performances, enhances learning methods, provides the ability to win the games, manage sports operations, serves and holds the fans, generating and acting on critical insights, Identification of talents, etc.
This new AI technology will provide a broad set of benefits with unexpected results and unimaginable outcomes. The sports team with AI technology will make out of the box performance absolute.