Alibaba and Intel are teaming up to create a new technology that can generate 3D models of athletes to enhance both the training programs of those athletes and the viewing experience for fans watching games at home.
Intel will provide the hardware – namely, computer-vision technology – and deep-learning algorithms, while Alibaba Cloud will leverage its massive stores of computing power to build the artificial intelligence-powered 3D Athlete Tracking Technology – all in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020.
The application will extract 3D forms of athletes in training and competition, allowing coaches to use the data to analyze athlete performances and introduce new enhancements to their training as well as provide fans with more compelling storytelling and insights about how athletes perform and compare to one another.
“This technology has incredible potential as an athlete training tool and is expected to be a game changer for the way fans experience the Games, creating an entirely new way for broadcasters to analyze, dissect and reexamine highlights during instant replays,” said Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Center Group.
The technology uses standard video cameras, rather than special sensors or suits, to generate a virtual “mesh” that tracks athletes’ real-time biomechanical data, creating a highly accurate digital model of the performance that can be analyzed in different ways.
“We are proud to partner with Intel on the first-ever AI-powered 3D athlete tracking technology where Alibaba contributes its best-in-class cloud computing capability and algorithmic design. With our technological advancements, Alibaba is transforming the sports media and broadcasting industries,” Alibaba Group Chief Marketing Officer Chris Tung said. “We continue to collaborate with industry leaders and drive innovations to create new experiences for the world to enjoy.”
Tuesday’s announcement was the latest in a string of initiatives through which Alibaba, as a TOP Partner, is working to digitize all aspects of the Olympic Games. In September, Alibaba Cloud and Olympic Broadcasting Services launched “OBS Cloud,” a broadcasting platform to support the content production and delivery workflows involved with the Olympic Games. OBS Cloud will be offered to rights-holding broadcasters as a totally cloud-based solution and should be in place for Tokyo 2020.
WATCH: Alibaba Cloud, Olympic Broadcasting Services Partner on ‘OBS Cloud’
Also, Alibaba Cloud rolled out its vision for the future Olympic Games during PyeongChang 2018 last February. The “Alibaba Cloud ET Sports Brain for the Future Olympic Games” is a suite of cloud-based and artificial-intelligence-powered solutions that will drive the digital transformation of the Olympic Games to benefit fans, spectators, athletes, venues and organizers. Some of those potential solutions include enhancing the Games experience for fans, smart city planning for host cities, safety and security at the Games, improving training efficiency for athletes and expanding the reach and accessibility of Olympic Games content.
“The opportunity for technology to positively influence, shape and reimagine the Olympic Games experience is tremendous and we haven’t even scratched the surface yet,” Tung said during last year’s announcement.
“Over the next 10 years, Alibaba Cloud ET Sports Brain will serve as the foundation of our efforts to drive the digital transformation of the Games, creating a more efficient and enjoyable experience for all audiences,” he said.