IBM Watson Helps Pittsburgh Penguins Advance Fan Experience

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2015-10-21 Print this article Print
IBM big data

Watson’s ability to interact in natural language, analyze large volumes of unstructured data, respond to complex questions with evidence-based answers, and discover new actionable patterns and insights makes it well suited for the domain of sports, an industry that, like so many others, is becoming much more data driven – not only to improve athletic performance and increase bottom lines, but also to improve the health and performance of both amateur and elite athletes.

Sports annually generates nearly $700 billion around the world, according to consulting firm A.T. Kearney, and the market is growing faster than Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in nearly every country -- even many times more in some major markets such as the United States, Brazil and the United Kingdom, IBM said. At the same time, the demand for artificial intelligence (AI) infused apps is increasing, with IDC predicting that by 2018, half of all consumers will regularly interact with services based on cognitive computing.

Companies in the sports world are tapping into the IBM Watson APIs to provide solutions. Triax Technologies produces the Triax Smart Impact Monitor (SIM), a wearable sensor embedded in headbands or skullcaps that tracks the force and frequency of head impacts during play, empowering parents, coaches and athletic trainers with the tools needed to improve player safety and refine technique in real-time. By utilizing the Watson language service, this device can factor in more diverse data sources to analyze sentiment and infer cognitive and social characteristics to provide a more holistic view of athletic safety and performance. Concussions in sports are a hot topic, and a prevalent injury. The CDC estimates that 3.8M sports-related head injuries occur each year, further highlighting the need for enhanced risk assessment, monitoring of metrics and player evaluation.

Spare5 is creating a cognitive app called “Watson Golf Pro” that uses Watson’s deep learning, natural language, and vision capabilities to act as a personal caddy that amateur players can consult while at the driving range or on the course. The app, based on the corpus of knowledge about mechanics and drills obtained from contracted golf professionals combined with Watson’s ability to “see” a user’s golf swing, provides users with feedback on how to implement better fundamentals.

IBM said it has more than 20 years of experience in applying new technologies, such as Sports Analytics, in a variety of ways to improve the coach, fan and player experience. Today’s sports and wellness partner examples join recently announced efforts by ORRECO in helping to train the world’s best athletes; Brightminded in changing the way personal trainers manage their fitness business; and Edge Up Sports in the competitive world of fantasy football. These organizations are taking advantage of the Watson Developer Cloud, a platform used by more than 77,000 developers globally.


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