Artificial intelligence (AI) technology advancements in sports are often ignored, but they have the ability to significantly alter an athlete's experience. Many athletes were in a difficult situation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with fewer opportunities to assess their results. Lately, technology giants Intel and Alibaba have developed a new platform using artificial intelligence called 3D Athlete Monitoring (3DAT) to help players find out what they need to improve on. The technology drives a cutting-edge deep learning framework that extracts 3D forms of athletes in training or competition using current and upcoming Intel hardware and Alibaba cloud computing technology.
3DAT uses regular video cameras to record the athlete's performance and the data is streamed, using the large-scale cloud computing infrastructure furnished by the Chinese firm, to the Intel Deep Learning Boost AI acceleration which is integrated into the processors. The system works without any wires or leads, which is probably the most important advantage for athletes. Instead, they are filmed while participating in simulations or training exercises. After that, the system creates an actionable report that coaches may use to help their athletes understand what they need to do to better their results.
Figure 1: 3DAT Simulation
The Golden Benchmark
Anyone who follows track and field is familiar with Ashton Eaton's name. During the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the two-time Olympic gold medalist excelled at the highest level, earning millions of fans in the process. Eaton went on to work at Intel as a product development engineer after retiring from the track. He's now working on the 3DAT project, which is unsurprising.
What comes next
Both Intel and Alibaba aimed to develop and showcase the 3DAT technology at the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo. However, the event was deferred to 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic and Intel will showcase the technology in three focus areas at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: compute, connect, and experience. This includes technologies that use 5G platforms, artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, interactive media, and esports.
Broadcasters will be able to use the AI technology's knowledge as connections to help educate viewers during the sprinting events. Similarly, for the first time, facial recognition will be used to enhance security at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. NEC Global, a Japanese IT corporation, has entered the event as a partner and will team up with Intel to introduce its facial recognition technology. Athletes, volunteers, media, and staff will also be expected to use technology to gain access to certain locations, venues, and accommodations during the Games.
Virtual reality can be used to watch many events from the Tokyo Olympics, including the opening and closing ceremonies, track and field, gymnastics, wrestling, and beach volleyball. 3D models of racetracks, camera positionings, and stadiums will be created using digital twinning technology, which provides a virtual duplication of real-world locations and structures. Intel has invited athletes, broadcasters, fans, and venue managers to use its 5G networks to access the 3D digital twin models.
Many of the innovations debuting at the Games will be sponsored by Alibaba's cloud computing division, but it will be used most prominently for broadcasting. Alibaba Cloud will be used in combination with the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) to build a scalable broadcasting kit. Broadcast engineers and producers who would usually have to set up broadcasting units on-site at the International Broadcast Centre in the host city would be able to operate remotely due to the switch to the cloud. Lower latency uploads, quicker editing, and streaming are all the advantages of this.
Figure 2: Announcement of Intel and IOC Collaboration.
3DAT has paved its way into the National Football League (NFL) in the United States of America, and the technology intends to help aspiring professional athletes boost their performance by gaining insight into critical training factors like speed, acceleration, and biostatistics. Alibaba and Intel's athlete-tracking platform is expected to extend into other sports and competitions if it proves popular.