Summits Yellow

IBM and Wimbledon deploy emotion-detecting AI to build highlights

Tim Maytom

IBM and the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) have partnered for many years in an effort to deliver the best possible experience for viewers of the annual Wimbledon Championship. This year, the newest development will see IBM's Watson AI creating highlight reels by recognising players' emotions.

Wimbledon first used AI technology back in 2015 to harness the huge amounts of data generated by the Championship, and provide insights for players, broadcasters and audiences. The latest deployment sees Watson's learning capabilities used to better recognise player emotions, increaasing the quality of the automated video highlights while also shaving 15 minutes off the time they take to produce.

AI-powered video highlights are generated for the most exciting moments of The Championships from the six main Show Courts. With an average of three matches per court, per day, video from the matches can quickly add up to hundreds of hours of footage which could take hours to pull together into highlight packages. The AI system auto-curates footage based on analysis of crowd noise, players' movements and match data, all of which helps simplify the highlight video production process.

"If you've got the visual element from the player, and you know that it's a tight pressure point in the match, then those are the points that you are going to really target in on in the hightlights package," said Sam Seddon, IBM client executive for Wimbledon, in an interview with Reuters. "We are listening for the volume of the crowd - if you have got a fantastic rally that noise levels will go up and down during that point. When that is happening, we flag it as particularly interesting."

The improved AI-generated highlights aren't the only new innovations IBM is bringing to this year's Championship. The firm has created The Wimbledon Messenger, a chatbot within Facebook Messenger that is powered by Watson and designed to complement the viewing experience. It has also rebuilt Wimbledon.com to improve personalisation and allow for persistant video viewing, and created a new editorial dashboard for the digital team, helping them to leverage content across all channels including social.

"We want to engage with existing as well as new gans around the world, to help them be part of Wimbledon 2018, especially in what will be such a competitive sporting summer," said Alexandra Willis, head of communications content & digital at the AELTC. "We want to tell the stories of the phenomenal athleticism of our great players, the gladiatorial nature of the matches they play and explain the sporting narratives that will cut through to our audience.

"IBM is critical to us in helping us place content with fans where they want to consume it and acknowledge the ever-increasing focus on video and new content formats in social media."