IBM hopes to power US Open's digital experiences with Watson's natural language processing

The US Open can't have fans this year so IBM is hoping it can use AI to fuel debates, experiences and even the noise in the stadium.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

IBM is hoping Watson, natural language processing and artificial intelligence can bring new digital fan experiences to the US Open.

The US Open this year will be without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. IBM, a long-time partner of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), typically uses the US Open to showcase its technologies. but much of it operates behind the scenes. This year, IBM may have a bigger stage given that all experiences will be digital once the tournament starts Aug. 31.

Big Blue and the USTA are using natural language processing and Watson to pull from datasets in multiple clouds to create new digital experiences on USOpen.org and the US Open app. IBM iX, a digital design agency, created the experiences.

The USTA is also launching VIP Experiences with Zoom Video Communications for hospitality events, tutorials and interviews.

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These US Open experiences, created in 75 days, include the following:

  • Open Questions with Watson Discovery, which facilitates debates among USOpen.org fans. Questions revolve around most influential tennis players and debates fueled by structured and unstructured data.
  • Match Insights with Watson Discovery, which utilizes AI insights ahead of matches. Via natural language processing, Watson Discovery will search and understand articles, opinions and statistics from prior matches and put insights in narrative form.
  • AI Sounds, which will recreate the sound of fans in the stadium by analyzing hundreds of hours of video footage from last year's US Open. Fan reaction will be matched to play and situations.

Behind the scenes, the US Open infrastructure will utilize hybrid cloud and Red Hat OpenShift to connect data sets, feeds and remote operations.   

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