Sports is transforming — AI is leading the way
The sports world has welcomed AI technology with open arms, using machine learning and other AI concepts to elevate performance to new levels. This article gives a whistle-stop tour of just some of the ways that AI is assisting sporting processes.
Sports — The Professional Game
Sports teams and individual athletes are capitalising on AI advances to ensure peak performance and maximise chances of success.
For example, high profile teams across most major sports are looking to AI and big data to assist in recruitment. AI models can take data pertaining to an individual’s current performance (e.g. goals scored, fitness levels, tackles made, average meters covered etc.) and predict their future potential. It can then estimate their market value by incorporating data regarding the national transfer market. Thus, teams can be assured that they are paying the optimum price for the best talent.
Using similar models, Machine Learning can then aid coaches with strategic decision making in sports strategy. AI can analyse individual player attributes (e.g. strength, agility, and speed scores) and determine which combination of players would be most effective in any given game. By comparing this data to that of the opposing team, the model can suggest optimum line-ups and even give indications as to the likelihood of victory.
Additionally, AI has become a crucial tool in the team physician’s medical kit. Wearable technology can now track the movements and physical parameters of players or athletes while they train. AI can monitor this data, checking for fatigue and signalling when an activity should be halted to prevent stress-induced injury.
But AI isn’t just infiltrating the professional teams — it can now assist your average exercise routine.
Advancements in computer vision technology permit the emergence of basic AI trainers. This is most evident in sports such as yoga and pilates where form and body position are vital. Pose estimation networks — such as Google’s PoseNet — can precisely detect humans’ poses from image and video data. Cameras recording your stretching exercise track posture and compare it to an ‘ideal’ state. It can then read aloud suggestions in real time and ensure they are executed in a safe and effective manner.
Example of Pose estimation technology
This tech remains in its infancy as precise pose estimation is notoriously tricky to achieve. However, going forward, similar AI designs can be applied to a wide range of workouts. It could, for example, encourage good form during weight training or promote proper technique for cardio exercises.
Fan Engagement in Sports
As well as influencing the way our teams train and we exercise, AI can impact how our experience of sport.
Broadcasters are using AI tech that helps select optimum camera angles to ensure high quality coverage. Natural language processing platforms can automatically provide subtitles for commentary in a range of languages to maximise accessibility. Basketball teams are using chatbots that respond to fan inquiries (e.g. providing stats, line-ups and transfer news) to keep fans connected, up-to-date and invested. American-based AI start-up has even provided means of expanding reporting capability by transforming raw baseball data into readable news stories. The potential for AI to influence our consumption of sports entertainment really is enormous.
So, from aiding the globe’s biggest sporting bodies with game tactics and squad management, to assisting everyday exercise routines with state-of-the-art computer vision technology, AI is moulding the future of the sporting world. However, the above are just a select few examples of how AI is being implemented across the sporting industry. We really have just scraped the surface of what AI can, and is, doing to revolutionise the sporting industry.
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