For the last 25 years, Wimbledon has been at the forefront of technology through its partnership with IBM. If you’re a Wimbledon tech-friendly fan, you’ve probably been up on the latest championship matches and wins through IBM’s free mobile apps for the games. This year’s tournament will prove not to disappoint fans and players as IBM will provide even more detailed information for every point through Watson Analytics.
Tennis fans who are used to the Hawkeye system which tracks the speed, trajectory, and spin rate of every shot will gain even more insight. Watson Analytics will take this core game data and overlay it with new algorithmic intelligence including metrics for ‘aggressive play’ and other data that computers would not necessarily even pick up.
“What we do here, all starts with data,” said Sam Seddon, Wimbledon program executive for IBM, who said 3.2 million data points were collected during last year’s tournaments. “That’s just data, it’s not stories. What we do with Wimbledon is turn the stories into life.”
Saddon continued, “By combining the two data sets we can start to uncover tactics within the points. We look at the speed of a shot, where it bounced, where the player hit it and how far they had to move to play it. Combining all those points allows us to analyze how aggressively, and by definition defensively, the players are being but importantly what the impact is on the match. This is all made available via the TV commentators and BBC TV graphics.” Now Wimbledon staff can ask Watson Engagement Advisor questions as if they had the world’s best tennis expert on-hand, and share those insights with fans via social media and the Wimbledon digital platforms.
Gone are the days of off the cuff stat reporting by sports commentators and trash talking bravado made famous in the 1980s by tennis champions like John McEnroe. It’s now been replaced with Advisor who can process 500 gigabytes, the equivalent of a million books, per second and deliver tennis stats and player related insights and historical context without blowing a fuse.
IBM and Wimbledon are hoping that IBM Advisor and Watson will deliver a new level of analysis and awareness to the totality of Wimbledon digital output. For example, Wimbledon staff will be able to use these tools to rapidly compare Andy Murray’s 2nd serve percentage from his Championships-winning matches in 2013 to his real-time performance in 2015.
This isn’t the first time IBM Watson Analytics has been involved in British sports tournaments. IBM’s TryTracker technology was used originally to predict the outcome of rugby games. Now it’s being implemented by businesses as IBM Watson Analytics to help better understand customers and gain a tactical advantage over competitors. The latest version of Watson Analytics shows IBM is making solid gains on enabling business analysts and decision makers with cloud-based apps that can streamline their daily jobs.