Wimbledon set to serve up more innovation

With the heavily-traditional Wimbledon tournament now less than a week away from commencing, there has been some surprising digital innovative technology revealed that will be debuting at this year’s edition, the 139th in the tennis spectacle’s history.

Fans are expected to pack Wimbledon beginning Monday 27 of June and keep their eyes on the favorite tennis stars and track their progress up until the final day, on the 10th of July. However, thanks to their partnership with IBM’s Watson “machine-learning” platform, they will be tracking you as well.

Specifically, scanning your facial expressions and display of emotions in an effort to see who you are supporting in this year’s showing. This should allow for individual based content to be generated around who someone is rooting for.

Its goal is similar to its partnership with football governing body, UEFA, in an ability to take people who have been chatting about their team in the European Championships, and tailor Wimbledon content to them whether that be a tennis player of a similar nationality or the country they support.

Aside from that, the All England Lawn Tennis Club and IBM, its tech partner since 1990, have remained tight lipped on the technology due to its need for legal approval and raising of privacy concerns.

It is not just your facial expressions that IBM will be monitoring, but, as per last year they will be looking at all social activity: “During last year’s final we were analysing about 400 tweets a second,” says IBM’s Sam Seddon. “Expand that out into Facebook, Instagram and more long-form content, and that’s a lot of data.

It’s another innovative move on behalf of Wimbledon and the AELTC.

The release comes just weeks after Wimbledon reached a deal with Snapchat which will see the increasingly popular platform show live imagery for the duration of the tournament.

Last year, Wimbledon revamped its website, enhancing their Social Command Center and even incorporating drones to capture video shots of the grounds.

They remain insistent on the need to balance tradition with hi-tech delivery.

However, despite the growing use of technology surrounding Wimbledon, there are still no plans to install Wi-Fi onto the grounds.

The 2015 Grand Slam was a healthy one online, with 71m site visits and 542m page views, increases of +13% and +14%, respectively over 2014. Novak Djokovic has toppled Roger Federer in the past two Grand Slams on British grass. Serena Williams, secured her sixth title at Wimbledon this past year in the Women’s Singles.

The World No. 1, Djokovic has been superb in 2016, becoming the first player in nearly half century to win four consecutive finals, his most recent the French Open, holding off Andy Murray, who won the grass summer showcase in 2013. Djokovic also beat Murray in the 2016 Australian Open, who is now victorious in thirteen of the last fifteen matches between the top two players in the world.

Whether Djokovic, Murray, or a surprise winner emerges victorious, the innovative technological footprint at Wimbledon has once again grown, and it’ll be interesting to see what it unveils in 2017 and beyond.

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