AI in Sports

Half a decade ago, artificial intelligence and sports was an unthinkable combination. Now, AI is making its way into various applications of the sports industry. It is more than computer vision and chatbots already.

The sports industry is divided into four segments:

  • Media rights. Certain fees paid by the media to broadcast games and events on various stations or networks.
    • Gate revenue. Principal ticket sales from various sports events.
    • Sales. This is the trade of products licensed with league logos, team trademarks, and other items with intellectual property rights.
    • Sponsorships. These fees are paid to have a brand association with a particular event, team, or league, including category and naming rights.

AI helps these four segments through four categories:

  1. a) Wearable tech
    b) Computer vision
    c) Chatbots
    d) Automated journalism

AI Applications in Major Sports

Below are some of the areas in which AI is already applied:

  1. Wearable AI
  • Boxing. Everlast and a French sports robotics company combined efforts to develop AI-powered wearables for combat sports. Since GAIA intelligence was used, the said platform is able to track and analyze the tiniest differences in movements made during boxing. This helps maximize training and workouts.
    • Training. Boltt Sports Technologies has its own AI-powered sports garments such as connected sneakers, stride sensors, and fitness trackers. With the help of a Bluetooth sensor, the sneakers can track your performance during training programs and workouts.
  1. Chatbots
  • NHL (National Hockey League). When it comes to engaging with customers, the NHL uses chatbots. Back in April 2017, Satisfi Labs and the Tampa Bay Lightning joined hands and brought about a chatbot to enthusiasts of ice hockey—Thunder Bot. This chatbot can readily respond to any question given by fans, including tickets, parking information, and Amalie arena facts. If Thunder Bot does not answer a question satisfactorily, a human customer service agent intervenes.
    • NBA (National Basketball Association). Sapien and the Sacramento Kings created the chatbot named KAI (Kings Artificial Intelligence). This chatbot functions through the Facebook Messenger app to answer various inquiries about team stats, franchise history, details about the Golden I Center, and team roster.
  1. Automated Journalism
  • Minor League Baseball (MLB). The Associated Press, together with Automated Insights, is expanding the MLB coverage. Wordsmith is an AI-run platform which translates raw data from MLB to narratives of natural language. Since statistics in sports are based on numbers, automated journalism works well in the industry. The numbered data can be formatted in a manner which makes automated articles easier to create.
  1. Computer Vision
  • NASCAR. Through AI deep learning, Argo AI/Ford Company is developing self-driving cars. These cars aim to improve safety measures in auto racing. The deep learning network was able to identify specific cars with the use of several images. From seeing just blurred images because of car speed, the network became more proficient. It eventually became more accurate than humans in identifying individual cars. This is important in pinpointing a malfunctioning car during the race.

As AI develops further, more and more applications will emerge in the sports industry. With the help of these latest innovations, players, fans, team owners, and sports companies will benefit more. Truly, sports will never be the same again.

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