IBM Watson is creating highlight reels at the Masters

IBM is harnessing Watson's ability to see, hear and learn to identify great shots at the Masters.

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IBM has been the digital overseer for the Master's golf tournament for more than two decades. In recent years, the technology contributions have evolved from website basics to apps and other digital experiences, and now Watson is being added into the mix.

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For the first time at a sporting event, IBM is harnessing Watson's ability to see, hear and learn to identify great shots at the Masters, based on crowd noise, player gestures, and other indicators, to aid in the creation of highlight reels.

"This year, they really wanted to take the Masters' digital projects to a new level, so we began thinking about how we can have an immersive video experience and what would make that space even more impressive," said John Kent, program manager for IBM's worldwide sports and entertainment partnership group. "That's how Watson became involved."

The technology behind the latest functionality is IBM's new Cognitive Highlights application, which uses Watson to automatically sort through live video streams to pinpoint moments worthy of a replay. The system also gathers information such as a player's name and hole number and then associates that metadata with certain highlight segments.

According to IBM, the Cognitive Highlights application is the foundation on which Big Blue can build a content engine for personalized experiences, both for producers, media, and eventually, fans. It's also the foundation for a myriad possible solutions in machine vision and hearing that can be applied to challenges across businesses, IBM said.

In media and entertainment, for example, the system could help a video producer work at scale, with Watson serving as an advisor and providing a baseline highlight package from which to work. Kent pointed out that the system is similar to the one IBM used to generate a Watson-produced movie trailer for last year's sci-fi/horror flick Morgan.

The first-ever Watson Highlights dashboard will be on site for viewing at the Masters, but IBM said the actual highlights won't factor into the TV broadcast for this year's tournament.

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