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Wimbledon turns to AI for highlights

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Wimbledon begins today. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Wimbledon begins today. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Wimbledon begins today. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Ever since John McEnroe turned the air blue at Wimbledon in 1981, tennis has been famed for arousing the passions of players on the court. Now competitors at the All England Club can expect to have their gestures and body language examined by artificial intelligence technology.

Wimbledon's AI machine will use visual image recognition technology to capture players' reactions in order to instantly clip highlights for viewers to watch at the end of the game.

This year, for the first time, the technology, named IBM Watson, has been taught "to understand the strike of a tennis ball on a racquet".

Each point is then ranked based on crowd excitement, player gestures and data, enabling the team of 180 people based in Wimbledon's AI bunker to "automatically generate" the best highlights in just two minutes.

"This allows us to clip the highlights package to be really tight, so it knows exactly when play is happening," said Sam Seddon, head of IBM's AI unit at Wimbledon. "We asked ourselves how do we create video content that's available really quickly? What are the most exciting moments in a match?"

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