IBM and the Digital Reinvention of the US Open 2019


IBM Watson is the Al engine of the US Open 2019.

For nearly three decades, IBM has partnered with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to bring this prestigious sporting event to life for millions of fans, players, coaches, and even the media.

This year players from Roger Federer to Serena Williams, along with their coaches, will be utilising IBM AI-powered tools to sharpen their game plan and skill.

Better still, IBM Watson is also reinventing how fans experience the US Open, taking it far beyond simply reporting the very latest Novak Djokovic news.

Watson Virtual Assistant will help the hundreds of thousands of fans visiting the tournament to successfully navigate everything from maps to dining options, along with making the US Open Schedule seem so much less daunting.

IBM Watson’s AI capacity enables it to see, hear, and understand the most exciting moments recorded on video.

In fact, IBM has taught Watson how to create the perfect highlight of the day.


This year, the US Open Winners are its worldwide audience

“We have been on a journey of digital reinvention with our technology partner, IBM,” says Kirsten Corio, Managing Director Digital Strategy USTA. “It starts right here, with match data… the raw material of the US Open digital experience.”

How is ‘match data’ transformed into highlights and a more enhanced viewing experience?

Running on the IBM Cloud, Watson analyses three key elements to score and rank every point in a match. This includes player gestures (fist pump, facial expression, and celebration) and the exhilaration of the crowd noise, combining it all with stats from the match.

Watson then translates those movements and moments into a set of scored data, adding context to the action on the court through an immediate analysis of any matches in progress, while also capturing the passion and intensity.

“The scores and stats. The roar of the crowd. Even the emotion on the players’ faces. IBM captures information from across the US Open,” Kirsten Corio explains, adding, “And transforms it into unforgettable fan experiences on the IBM Cloud. Not just any cloud. A hybrid cloud.”

The US Open’s hybrid cloud is smart and open.

To handle and smoothly connect data and different workloads, the US Open 2019 required a combination of on-premise, private and public clouds.

IBM Cloud and Red Hat OpenShift bring those clouds together, creating a seamless experience for 10 million fans around the world.

It also enables the enterprise-grade data analytics of IBM SlamTracker.


US Open Results down to the finest detail: IBM SlamTracker

IBM SlamTracker provides real-time scores, statistics, and point-by-by analysis of the match.

The premier scoring application for the US Open, IBM SlamTracker leverages player and ball position data to provide so much more than traditional stats, such as aces, winners, and unforced errors.

It allows fans to follow every single, detailed aspect of the US Open 2019

For instance, it offers insights based on ‘pressure situations’ within a match, those moments when a player is two sets down, or facing either a break-point or tie-break.

By looking back on a player’s historical performance, particularly when confronted by these specific challenges in the past, IBM SlamTracker reveals hidden patterns in player and match dynamics.

To determine what each player must do to perform well in the match, SlamTracker’s ‘Keys to the Match’ feature draws on predictive analytics technology, analysing over twelve years of Slam Tennis data.

This includes players’ historical head-to-heads, as well as their own unique style and performance against certain aspects (wind, left-handed players, time of day). SlamTracker collects the stats together to predict all possible outcomes.

IBM SlamTracker also offers in-depth insights on other aspects of each match and player, such as ‘Distance/Point’, ‘Depth of Serve’, and a ‘Momentum’ feature visualising the competitive flow of a specific bout.

As Kirsten Corio explains, the US Open 2019 is ‘applying advanced analytics and Al to serve up game-changing insight to fans…It sees the action on the court and knows what makes great tennis highlights.”

Of course, all this opens up areas going well beyond enhanced entertainment for the viewer.

As Kirsten Corio says, it also “helps coaches and players analyse matches quickly to improve their game”.


Upping the Game at the US Open 2019

To assess a player’s physiology, mechanics, or fatigue, coaches traditionally rely on player feedback,

experience and instinct.

But now IBM is applying the same Al technology that powers Al highlights to help coaches and players optimise training regimens and inform match strategies.

For example, going back over video replays is a crucial element in any player’s development. But the process of tagging and indexing match video for analysis is time-consuming and labour-intensive.

After all, some matches can go on for three or more hours. The US Open final in 2012, pitting Andy Murray against Novak Djokovic, lasted almost fiver hours.

Thankfully, IBM Watson accelerates the time from hours to minutes. It reviews the entire match footage while also automatically identifying key points and stats.

This allows coaches to quickly craft comprehensive and effective analysis and reports for the player as they gradually progress through the US Open Tennis Schedule.


Securing the US Open 2019

IBM is the official Information Technology Provider to the US Open 2019, as well as its Official Cloud & AI Partner.

IBM designs and develops the tournament’s digital experience through and the US Open app, delivered by the IBM Cloud and secured by IBM Watson for Cyber Security.

It’s not unusual for the US Open’s infrastructure to be targeted by more than 200 million attacks during the course of the tournament. Mand mission-critical applications are been regualry migrated to an open, hybrid cloud.

IBM Watson for Cybersecurity uses sophisticated analytics and machine learning to eliminate the threats. It also prevents any attempted attacks from disrupting the experience.

So the US Open 2019 isn’t just scaling its use of AI to deliver next-generation fan experiences.

It’s also protecting the US Open brand with world-class security.


Game-Changing IBM Innovation

From the Watson-enabled virtual assistant to the US Open website and app, the entire IBM collection brings the whole occasion to life.

This remarkable US Open 2019 experience is built on the same technologies that regularly solves challenges for companies around the world.

The same IBM technologies that are changing the game across the world from diagnosing disease to batting climate change and even revolutionising transport.

Have your clients already been introduced to these world-changing innovations?

Even if they have, there’s more to learn about IBM Watson’s capabilities and benefits here.

There are also a number of free trails available here.

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