Rapidly advancing technologies are changing not only our daily lives. Modern sport is also making heavy use of developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cybernetics, and millions of fans from around the world follow the course of e-sports tournaments. According to Sergey Kartashov, Senior Partner at IT company Roosh, modern athletes use innovations that their predecessors could only dream of. And these innovations help athletes to become Citius, Altius, Fortius, that is, faster, taller, and stronger.
How digitalization has changed soccer
Millions of people follow soccer matches with excitement, especially the world ones or those of the Champions League. Therefore, it is not surprising that this particular sport is actively using developments based on AI, Machine Learning, and cybernetics that make it even more spectacular.
For example, avid football fans are probably already familiar with the term “heat map”, a graphical representation of data, that looks like a kind of scheme with multi-colored fractals. This map is an indicator of the effectiveness of a player or a whole team on the field during the match. For instance, if a player interacts more with the ball on the left flank, this place gets more heated, that is, it gains a saturated “warm” color. Thus, it is possible to analyze through what side of the field a team attacked more. You can see how heat maps work, for example, on the professional soccer platform WyScout. Sergey Kartashov notes that such maps are already used extensively not only in soccer or rugby but also in sprint competitions and during marathons.
The FIFA World Cup 2022 that will be held in Qatar will use an offside recording system. 12 cameras installed on the roof of the stadium will track all the soccer players’ movements. At a speed of 50 frames per second, these devices will record everything that happens on the field, and in case of an offense, they will warn a referee.
Technologies in individual sports
Innovations have changed not only team sports like soccer, rugby, or basketball. Today, they are actively used for the training and rehabilitation of athletes competing in individual sports. For example, since last year Tennis Australia, the governing body of tennis within Australia, has been using an AI-based video analysis application called SwingVision. Here is how it works: a smartphone camera records the speed, rotation, and movement of the ball on the court, the player’s feet changing when making strikes, and then the app provides feedback on these parameters. SwingVision is currently available only for iPhone or iPad, but its developers plan to release an Android version this year.
It is quite difficult to keep track of such a sport as bobsleigh with the naked eye since the sled moves at a high speed. Therefore, Omega has developed a technology that can record this parameter and display it on the screen for further analysis. To do this, several sensors are attached to the bob, including a special 3D sensor gyroscope that measures the speed when the sled drives into the curve.
Another interesting development, according to Sergey Kartashov, is the brainchild of the tech company Treadsport Training Systems. In 2014, it created a VR simulator that imitates skiing on mountain routes. While skiers are training on virtual slopes, the program monitors their movements and physical condition. Then, their coaches analyze the data received and, based on them, adjust the training program.