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IBM delivers the COVID-era US Open to us online

The tech behemoth is making sure to deliver a world-class digital experience for all the fans watching it from home.

For 29 years, IBM has partnered with the US Open tennis championships to deliver a world-class digital experience. Neither the tech behemoth nor the tournament organisers saw how 2020 would turn out.

For the first time, the US Open is being played without spectators. IBM says the onsite staff responsible for the digital experience we're used to is working from home.

But, that doesn't mean you will face a lacklustre digital experience. On the contrary, IBM and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) doubled its efforts

The ad's description on YouTube reads, "Even though tennis fans can’t attend this year’s US Open, they’re closer than ever to the action, at home. IBM Cloud is helping the USTA reimagine the tournament, and IBM Watson is serving up game insights from millions of data points to fans everywhere using AI."

And on its website, IBM wrote, "In just 12 weeks, the USTA and IBM teams conceived, developed and delivered a first-of-a-kind, AI-powered tennis experience to bring fans gameplay insights and an opportunity to debate some of tennis’ hottest topics, using Watson Discovery’s natural language processing and AI-powered search capabilities."

Here's how ways how IBM is doling out the digital experience this year as per a press release

Open Questions with Watson will employ Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities in IBM's Watson Discovery, IBM Project Debater and custom AI algorithms to generate and moderate a public conversation during the tournament over questions like "Is Serena Williams the best player in tennis?'' and "Does Pete Sampras have the best all-around tennis game?"

Aaron K. Baughman, a Distinguished Engineer with IBM iX who focuses on artificial intelligence and emerging technologies said, “The goal of the open question project is to stimulate a conversation about popular tennis topics. We’ll be mining the fan content as well as archives to write a narration around each of these questions.”

Match Insights with Watson, providing a fan tip sheet for each match, has used Watson Discovery NLP technology and custom Natural Language Generation algorithms to pore over millions of written articles from the news, sports journalism and other sources, to glean the most relevant facts and insights, and write short, data-rich articles to raise the curtain on each match-up.

“It tackles hundreds of thousands of articles and facts about a player. It’s super cool to be able to bring that into one place," said Jenna Miller, a senior consultant at the IBM iX Studio in Atlanta.