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Artificial Intelligence Impact on the Future of Sports

Artificial Intelligence is disrupting the sports industry at a tremendous pace and it’s just the beginning. The estimated size of the Global sports industry is $1.2 Trillion and is increasing very rapidly with more millennials consuming sports. It is said that post Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) era, entertainment is set to be the biggest industry on the Earth and sports will have a major contribution to it. During the AGI era, the majority of human tasks will be replaced by AI and humans will have nothing much to do and hence will be mostly engaged in entertainment activities like sports, e-sports, gaming and other forms of entertainment.

Let’s explore AI impact on the Sports industry:

Virtual Reality Sports Powered by AI:

Source: Zwift

An immersive virtual reality sport experience powered by AI will no longer be different from real experience of sport on ground using smart sensors, IoT, custom equipment and gamification. With Virtual reality headsets even sport enthusiasts can compete virtually with other sport participants from around the world as if in a real environment. A virtual platform with AI technology can provide a realistic experience in a virtual environment. The feel and experience will be the same.

For instance, Zwift, a California based startup that develops a virtual world for cyclists and other sports raised $120 million. Zwift platform connects to physical indoor trainers so that cyclists can pedal inside while immersed in any number of virtual landscapes on a screen in front of them. It also allows friends to join in rides together. Cyclists can ride races against each other or do time trials on their own, as the app combines exercise with gaming. To use Zwift’s platform one will need a stationary bike. The Zwift app connects virtually to a smart cycle equipment and sensors communicate to the app the speed of the user riding the cycle. With the emergence of 5G technologies, such VR/MR experience will be more interactive and immersive, and 5G is poised to change the sports industry forever and deliver a phenomenal viewer experience.

Augmented Reality and AI Targeted Ads:

Source : philiplelyveld

Advertisements that we see during sports like Football, Cricket and Tennis are being seen the same around the world. AR can change this forever and bring in more money for the sports bodies. Using AR and AI technology, we can show targeted ads across field-side on the ground by overlapping targeted ads. In the image below, AR targeted ads delivered to different regions and more personalised.

Automating Broadcasting:

Broadcasting is a very complicated process with sophisticated technical setup and even a minor error can pose millions of dollars of losses. WIth advancement in AI, most of the tedious process of broadcasting intermediaries can be eliminated. Multiple Smart cameras can auto analyse, detect and perform the broadcasting tasks including hits, scores, goals, fouls, highlights, replays and other aspects of the sports.

For instance, Hawk-Eye has developed the most sophisticated vision processing technology in sport which enables us to track balls to millimeter accuracy. This vision processing technology combined with an intelligent IT based video replay, distribution software and creative graphics platform powers a number of products & services that are revolutionising sport and has been adopted in sports like cricket, tennis, football amongst others.

Athletes DNA Modification:

It would be possible for athletes to rewrite their genetic code through genetic engineering. In future, athletes can have their genes designed to improve performance and have an edge over competitors. AI will help figure out the unique formula for gene doping which might be impossible to detect. CRISPR technology for genetic engineering have recently made many breakthroughs in successfully tweaking certain diseases by resequence the genes and this is just the beginning. The concerned agencies will have to revamp their testing technology and include more dynamic regulations by sports bodies will need to be formed.

AI in Esports: 

AI in gaming is rapidly changing Esports, including player-athlete performance, coach assistants, game design, and enabling new approaches to in-game strategies.

For example, esports analytics platforms such as SenpAI are providing AI-powered coaching that can assess player stats, and suggest better strategies in games like League of Legends and Dota 2. The League of Legends World Championship attracted 200 million viewership.

Optimise Athletes Performance: 

AI can track athletes’ performance across millions of data points and deliver optimised recommendations for improving Athletes’ performance. Having a really intelligent AI will be an edge for an athlete or a team. A team can keep track and analyse various parameters in real-time to improve the performance on field and post match analysis. Computer vision will also be an integral part to give better analysis of the sport match. The use of unique algorithms to accurately predict and analyse in real-time will be the edge.

Accelerating Sports of the Future:

Adventure is ingrained in our DNA. Until now, there hasn’t been substantial innovation in the new sports category. A new category of Space sports will evolve with AI’s contribution as an underlying force to develop the necessary space sports infrastructure. As we are aggressively innovating and accelerating towards the Space ecosystem including missions to the Moon and Mars and becoming a space-faring civilization, sports too will evolve and have presence beyond Earth with full safety systems including exoskeletons, material science innovations and advanced flying machines.

Humans will get more adventurous and Space diving from the upper stratosphere within gravity limits wearing spacesuits will be the future and witnessing the beautiful Earth curvature view while diving. No one would have thought 50 years back that skydiving would become a mainstream sport. It always seems impossible, until it’s done. AI can help accelerate space sports by indirectly contributing towards the necessary foundational infrastructure, say like an Iron man suit, super Space planes, super balloons to name a few possibilities. It’s just the beginning of an exciting future.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Towards AI & it’s editor)

Aakash Porwal

Aakash Porwal

Aakash Porwal is the Co-Architect of Space Aura. Space Aura is a unique Space sports venture – Space diving sport & beyond Earth sports. Space divers will traverse to the upper stratosphere and space dive wearing a spacesuit. Feel free to connect on Twitter @aakashp9

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