How the U.S. Open Is Serving Up a Highly-Connected Experience in Real Time
Want to see if Serena Williams will make it to the next round of the 2012 U.S. Open based on how she’s playing, feeling or even the weather?
Whether you’re at home watching matches on TV or seeing them live at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City, the event has rolled out a series of cutting-edge tech efforts that brings fans right into the action, thanks to predictive technology and analytics collected by IBM.
IBM is delivering a high-tech experience for spectators, including a sleek new iPad app [iTunes link] that streams match data, player analysis, video and tweets in real time, as well as an interactive touchscreen wall at the event that shows what’s happening around the stadium.
The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) and IBM, which together launched the first U.S. Open iPhone app in 2009 and an Android app in 2011, has designed the new iPad app to be a companion program for those watching at home or live in the stands. The platform provides live video, highlights and in-depth statistical information. It also pulls messages from Twitter to enable fans to chat with others worldwide about the games.
But perhaps the most innovative aspect of the iPad app is that it provides an insider’s view of who’s gaining the edge on the court and who’s most likely to win as the game progresses.
“It allows us to show to the world how analyzing data in real time can enhance the fan experience,” Deepak Advani, VP of business analytics at IBM, said at a press event. “We are trying to predict what players need to improve chances of winning against the person they are playing. The same analytic algorithms are also applicable when companies are trying to figure out the propensity of their customers, from how to prevent them from leaving and which offers will get them to stay.”
The data that fuels the app comes from IBM’s on-site tech hub, manned with dozens of staffers monitoring analytics, live scores and Twitter sentiment. This information also powers an innovative feature on USOpen.org site called SlamTracker, which blends predictive technology along with historical and real-time match data to deliver a better understanding of what’s going on during a match.
But these stats aren’t just being used by fans at home and around the stadium. The data is invaluable to coaches, athletes and others working the grounds, including referees who hold a small device in their hands that analyzes each serve volley and point. The same technology that delivers this insight is also being used to monitor babies in prenatal wards, help police departments prevent crime and enable financial services firms to improve customer service.
The U.S. Open has also created an on-site experience with its fan center, allowing attendees to play tennis-related video games and interact with a touchscreen wall that reveals everything from live scores to how local weather is affecting player nutrition and hydration.