Jun 28 - 4min readCan Wimbledon’s New Technology Lift Britain’s Spirits?By Borne
The weekend has seen a black cloud descend over Great Britain, with markets crashing, the value of the pound plummeting and the Labour party disintegrating into thin air.
Nothing a spot of tennis can’t solve.
So fetch yourself a glass of Pimms, a punnet of strawberries and a smidgen of optimism because Wimbledon has arrived, and there’s nothing like watching Andy Murray’s mother fist pumping to restore our sense of national pride.
Let’s take a look at the technology Wimbledon will be using this fortnight to make your Wimbledon experience better than ever.
Apple TV app
As if Wimbledon couldn’t get any more exciting, they and IBM have developed a new Apple TV app. This app allows fans to interact with Wimbledon from the comfort of their sofas. Users can watch the Live @ Wimbledon show, listen to radio channels, receive real time updates and browse Wimbledon’s photo and video content. The best part? They won’t have to do any queueing.
The app will also enhance the experience for those visiting Wimbledon, allowing users to create and share their own Snapchat-style Wimbledon story. However, it should be noted that the Wimbledon grounds still do not have WIFI, so here’s hoping you haven’t used up your monthly data allowance.
Currently Hawk-eye can not only track whether shots are in or out, but can also determine whether the player is hitting the ball in their usual style or becoming more aggressive. It can ‘know’ past behaviour, allowing more in-depth and interesting post-match analysis.
But there are many improvements to be made, with Wimbledon’s collaboration with IBM adding a whole new dimension to game analysis. This time, they have introduced ‘Watson’, an Al-driven analytics platform.
The software will be analysing millions of conversations occurring on giant social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. IBM’s Sam Seddon said that last year they were ‘analysing about 400 tweets a second’, and they now plan to increase their data by expanding it to Facebook, Instagram and others.
In coming up with insights, IBM are able to ‘inform the media team so they can decide what kind of content they should be offering’. For the first time this year, instead of simply producing content as the trends occur, the ever-learning Watson will be able to pre-empt trends and produce content to continuously entice and engage viewers.
By analysing the data, IBM is confident that Wimbledon will have the edge in the now highly competitive sporting world. Monitoring conversations about a Swiss football game occurring at the same time as a Roger Federer match will enable Wimbledon to make content decisions based on real time interests of users, delivering content through the new app.
IBM’s Watson may also be monitoring facial expressions in order to work out how spectators are feeling. Continuously learning over the fortnight, it is predicted that eventually Watson will be able to work out which player you are supporting simply looking at your face. The company have revealed very little about this new technology, perhaps due to the fact that having your facial expressions read and analysed whilst watching a tennis match is, well, a bit weird.
Technology or tennis?
However, it must be noted that the number of people using social media to monitor Wimbledon is far lower than those who simply watch it on TV. Whilst the TV audience currently stands at 300 million, those using digital platforms to receive their updates peaks at just 30 million. With this new technology, it seems Wimbledon are hoping to increase the number of digital users, specifically for those at work who are unable to watch the matches.
Of course, it is important to remember that many people just want to watch a tennis match and are uninterested in the conversations and trends surrounding the game. But it seems Wimbledon is also aware of this. Alexandra Willis, head of communications, content and digital at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club said that their challenge is ‘servicing each of those audiences on all platforms in the best way we can, while making sure that we are being true to Wimbledon’s tone of voice’.
The future of tech in sport?
With Facebook now monitoring conversations in order to offer the best content, it was only a matter of time before sporting events began to do the same, and what better place to start than Wimbledon, an event that makes tennis fans out of absolutely everyone. With hugely improved sports analytics and production of content relevant to social media trends, sport is becoming more analytical than ever, which is great for an event like Wimbledon with such a huge audience.
After England’s embarrassing display in last night’s football, alongside the shocking referendum result, we desperately need something to bring us all together, and here’s hoping Wimbledon, and their technological improvements, will do just that.