Man with a virtual reality headset

The growth of Artificial Intelligence and its influence in sport

Sport plays an important role within our modern society and has so for centuries. For some, sport is important for the health and longevity benefits that they provide, for others, sport is a channel to socialise through; whether it’s by participating or by spectating. For most however, sport is a healthy source of entertainment; watching athletes push themselves to their physical limits and continually improving their performance is all a part of the thrill of sport. But what if I told you, that with the use of robotics and artificial intelligence, we are able to push ourselves and athletes to exceed our current physical capabilities?

 

 

Unfortunately, I’m not talking about augmented body enhancements from a futuristic, dystopian, science-fiction movie, like Robocop; I just mean within the realm of what is possible today. With machine learning, computer vision and many other forms of artificial intelligence; the performance of athletes can be analysed much more efficiently than ever before. During any training session or any game, various sensors are able to pick up and record every single move an athlete makes and then turn it into valuable statistics and data. This gives coaches and trainer’s incredible insight into the performance of their players that could never have been as efficiently or easily recorded from pure human spectating.

Using artificial intelligence, we are not only able to record the current capabilities of athletes, but we are also able to highlight the potential talent that may otherwise be overlooked. Sean Durzi, a 19-year-old defence man in the Ontario Hockey League is a good example of this. None of the teams in the league wanted to enlist Durzi to their team, until he was analysed by an A.I. system. The system had ranked Durzi as one of the top 40 players in the league; now, Durzi has become a very well-known player within the league and is proving his talent.

 

“Teams could have got him as a late-round pick last year, if they’d followed what our system was telling them” says Christopher Boucher, the inventor of the A.I. system and manager of Hockey Analytics at Sportlogig (a Montreal-based start-up company).

“Now he’s much higher ranked and will cost them an earlier draft pick.”

Christopher Boucher is not the only one who got the idea to use artificial intelligence to find more potential athletes. Cam Potter is the co-founder of Brooklyn Dynamics, a Melbourne-based data analytics company that has worked with several Major League Baseball teams. Potter and Boston Dynamics’ work is primarily being used to enable scouts, coaches and even players to access A.I. tools at any time, that further provides a global database of player data for colleges and professional teams to review. “The goal is for colleges and pro teams to have access to data from kids they might never see otherwise.”

Artificial intelligence is opening the doors for many professional teams and potential professional athletes who want to become stars within their sport. Players that may have never been drafted, seen or even discovered are able to be found using artificial intelligence. Isn’t it impressive how far technology has come?