Redefining the game: How AI is transforming the world of sports

January 9, 2024
Artificial Intelligence, Connect & Support People

Interview with Artus Rupalla, product management team lead and AI expert at TeamViewer

Hey Artus, thanks for talking to us about the exciting applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in the world of sports!

1. You’re quite the athlete yourself. You told us you love to cycle and play tennis.
What are your favorite AI applications in cycling and tennis?

In tennis, the first thing that comes to mind is the Hawk-Eye system. This system uses multiple cameras to track the ball and collect data to calculate the most likely ball trajectory. It then visualizes the path of the ball to help referees make decisions in close calls. The Hawk-Eye system is also being used to convert traditional tennis courts into interactive, AI-enhanced environments. There are advanced systems that employ high-speed cameras and AI algorithms to analyze stroke speed data and match statistics. In some cases, systems like this even function as automated referees.

It’s exciting to see how consumer apps have made AI technology more accessible to amateur athletes. In cycling, for instance, AI has revolutionized training for both professionals and amateurs. AI-based training programs can assess and adapt to the unique needs of each cyclist, enabing a high level of personalization. This has made pro-level coaching accessible to a wider range of cyclists.

2. As sports become increasingly data-driven, coaching teams have enlisted AI tools to enhance performance analytics. For instance, AI can assess player movements, shot success rates, and other key statistics.
How can AI improve the effectiveness of analyzing performance data?

AI is already widely used in performance analysis. We’re just not always aware of it. What stands out here are the predictive capabilities of AI. They allow teams to make forecasts based on historical and real-time data. This is particularly evident in sports like cycling, where AI is used to predict race outcomes by analyzing rider statistics against race conditions. In tennis and basketball, AI can track player movements and shot success rates as the game unfolds. This helps coaches make informed, in-the-moment tactical decisions. In team sports, AI-generated visualizations of player movements help coaches define the tactical formation of the team and develop strategic plays. Pattern recognition is also transforming sports like tennis, where understanding an opponent’s playing style and adapting strategies accordingly can make the difference between winning and losing.

Also, personalized training and recovery plans created by AI are revolutionizing the way athletes prepare for a match. AI can monitor and analyze athletes’ health to optimize training schedules, improve performance, and even reduce their risk of being injured. This enables them to train smarter, not just harder, which leads to sustained high performance.

3. In sports like football and basketball, AI algorithms can assist coaches in recruiting new players, deciding which players to substitute on the field, and determining the best tactical formation for the team.
What are your thoughts on AI taking over decision-making in sports?

The use of AI for sports decision-making is a complex topic. The strength of AI lies in its ability to analyze data quickly and impartially. AI can evaluate performance without the biases that might influence human scouts, which results in more efficient and objective player scouting. AI also contributes to fairer decision-making, enhancing the integrity of sports, especially when it comes to adjudicating rules and analyzing gameplay.

That being said, sports are more than just numbers and data. They involve human elements like morale, team chemistry, and leadership, which AI can’t fully comprehend. While AI can suggest strategies based on data, it lacks the capacity to understand human emotions and the dynamics that play out on the field.

Therefore, I believe that while AI brings valuable insights and efficiency to sports strategy, it cannot replace the nuanced judgment and emotional intelligence of human coaches and managers. So, there needs to be an approach where human skill and intuition are complemented by the analytical strengths of AI.

4. AI is expected to attract huge investments throughout 2024 and beyond. Looking to the future, the possibilities of what AI could achieve in sports seem endless.
What role do you think AI will play in sports 10 years from now?

Looking ahead, AI could bring groundbreaking changes to the sports world. I think it’s likely that there’ll be a surge in algorithmic strategy building, where coaches rely on AI to dissect opponents’ playing styles and devise effective tactics. These strategies will help teams make smarter decisions about player line-ups and in-game tactics.

Also, sensors and real-time data analysis will enhance tactical decision-making. This trend is already emerging in sports like cricket and football, where AI analyzes in-game activities to offer strategic insights.

Another exciting advancement will be in the realm of sports broadcasting and media. AI is already being used to create video summaries of longer sports events, with automatically generated event highlights. Event highlights are key moments in a game, like goals or points, which AI can identify in real-time. This isn’t only efficient — it also brings fans closer to their favorite teams by helping them stay up to date and providing them with compelling insights .

One more way AI will impact the sports world is through virtual reality (VR) and AI-driven virtual environments. These technologies offer new training opportunities for athletes and can also be used to create immersive experiences for fans.

I believe the future of sports lies in using AI to complement and enhance human knowledge and experience. So, while these advancements can be transformative, I don’t think humans will be replaced by AI on the field or the court.

Artus Rupalla

Artus is a product management team lead at TeamViewer. He holds a master’s degree in aerospace engineering and has several years of experience working in product management for complex digital products. At TeamViewer, Artus plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of our solutions by developing AI-based automation features and smart workflows. Other than AI, Artus is passionate about cycling and tennis.

As a leading global technology company, TeamViewer brings its expertise in digitization, remote connectivity, IoT, and AR to partnerships with some of the world’s leading sports teams. Together, we’re digitizing processes and bringing fans closer to their favorite teams than ever before. At the same time, we’re developing new use cases for our software that can be transferred to our customers’ industrial environments.

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