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features

Fit Tech People: Patrick Lucey

VP of AI, Stats Perform

We can capture tracking data from historical videos, enabling us to do large scale comparisons of players, such as Michael Jordan, across eras

Published in Fit Tech 2020 issue 2

How does AI assist the sports industry?
Many of us rely on AI-based technology without even knowing it. For example, when we use Google Maps, it gives us an estimate of a route and time it takes to get to a destination by using AI. Or when we order an Uber or Lyft, it connects us to a driver and calculates the fare.

These are examples of assistive technology – enabling people to make easier/better/quicker decisions, and they not only emulate but sometimes surpass what humans can do.

The reason these companies are able to achieve this ‘super human’ capability, is that they’ve utilised an enormous amount of data. The more data you have, the better your AI technology will be - simple as that.

When it comes to the sheer volume of data in the sports industry – both historically in terms of capturing all games played, and also in terms of granularity (details of locations and times of games played) – no other company has the volume of sports data we have at Stats Perform.

We cover all sports and we capture details of them at a depth no other company does, which positions us as the best sports AI company.

The goal of our AI technology is to help all segments of the sports industry to make better and quicker decisions, as well as to do things they couldn’t beforehand.

Can you give us an example?
Football (soccer) is a hard sport to analyse because it’s low-scoring, continuous and strategic. For these reasons, the current statistics used, such as possession percentage, number of passes, corners and tackles, don’t correlate with goals scored and who won the match.

Our AI-based metrics, such as expected goals, quality of passes and playing styles, correlate far more accurately with the number of goals scored when compared with standard statistics. Our AI metrics measure performance better.

Using these AI tools, we were able to show how UK team Leicester City won the 2015-16 English Premier League title. Basically, it wasn’t the goal-scoring exploits of players Jamie Vardy or Riyad Mahrez that won the game, the result was down to goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel, who saved five more goals than the average Premier League goalkeeper, and their defenders who intercepted the most 50-50 balls – especially midfielder Ngolo Kante.

What else can your software do?
There are things in football that can’t be measured reliably by humans, such as a team’s formation.

Using our AI techniques – most notably our unsupervised clustering method – we can automatically find a team’s formation at every frame of a match. We’re very proud of this, as we’re the first group to be able to do this and it’s a central feature of our Edge football software.

Outside football, we‘ve also recently launched a couple of new AI-based products for analysing NFL and NBA, called VQ and Insights.

The VQ (victory quotient) system, uses our wealth of data in both the NBA and NFL, as well as our deep learning models to provide predictions of performance of every player in every match. That’s the power of AI, as we can scale our models to provide these predictions for every match being played.

Additionally, we’ve launched our Insights Live product, which provides notable information during every match using our deep data, in tandem with our natural language generation platform, which is another great example of using AI to scale and provide information where it wasn’t previously available.

How is AI changing the world of sports for consumers and competitors?
The reason sport is so compelling is that it’s played and coached by humans who are constantly making decisions in the heat of the moment – often the wrong decision.

Every single decision that a coach or player makes can be broken down, analysed and debated and at Stats Perform, we have the data on every decision coaches and players make, which means that by using our AI technology, we can provide objective analysis on each decision.

This is compelling for front-offices as we now have a better measure of performance.

It’s the same for audiences at home. Every sports event is now a talking point and we can make it even more compelling by providing a reliable prediction service for consumers.

Our AI technology is also the ultimate decision analysis tool, enabling everyone associated with the sports world to make better decisions.

Sports are increasingly being broadcast and consumed via mobile and the internet and this means raw and AI-based metrics are required to make more interactive and compelling experiences.

How can AI maximise old data?
We have the most sports data on the planet. To continually improve, we want to collect even more, with a granularity that a human could not do manually. That’s how our AutoStats functionality works.

This utilises computer vision, which captures a player’s skeleton from a broadcast video frame and then provides player tracking and event data.

Our goal is to collect tracking data from every sports video that has ever existed – which essentially enables us to travel back in time.

Take basketball as an example: tracking systems were not available in the 80s or 90s, so capturing the performance of Michael Jordan has not been possible... until now.

Using AutoStat, we can capture data from historical videos, enabling us to do comparisons of players across eras.

Will AI take the magic out of sport?
I get asked that question often. My honest belief is that we’re making sports better. Instead of it being a mere athletic endeavour (ie, the fastest and strongest prevail), we’re adding a cognitive dimension to the equation, where players and coaches have to also hone and perfect their cognitive function to best prepare for (and predict) the strengths and weakness of opponents.

How will AI change sport?
Currently top professional athletes receive the best analysis and coaching. AI technology will democratise this to the point that everyone, whether amateur or professional, kid or adult, can receive the best analysis and coaching for free.

More: StatsPerform.com

About Stats Perform
Based in Chicago
Founded in 1981 by John Dewan
Collects the world’s largest amount of sports data
Clients include media outlets, sports leagues and teams, fantasy sports and sports betting services
Pioneers in the computer vision tracking space, using it since 1999
Provide immediate insight on gameplay from more than 45 different sports
Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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The internationally-recognised sporting goods exhibition Sports and Fitness Taiwan (TaiSPO) will return on 22-25 March 2023. The event will be held at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, Hall 2 (TaiNEX 2) and feature a full range of sporting goods, fitness equipment, sports technology, and workout services for all ages.
Funxtion, the leading B2B digital fitness content SaaS platform company, and CycleMasters, the best in direct-to-consumer indoor virtual cycling experiences, are joining forces to help gym operators elevate their member experience.
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features

Fit Tech People: Patrick Lucey

VP of AI, Stats Perform

We can capture tracking data from historical videos, enabling us to do large scale comparisons of players, such as Michael Jordan, across eras

Published in Fit Tech 2020 issue 2

How does AI assist the sports industry?
Many of us rely on AI-based technology without even knowing it. For example, when we use Google Maps, it gives us an estimate of a route and time it takes to get to a destination by using AI. Or when we order an Uber or Lyft, it connects us to a driver and calculates the fare.

These are examples of assistive technology – enabling people to make easier/better/quicker decisions, and they not only emulate but sometimes surpass what humans can do.

The reason these companies are able to achieve this ‘super human’ capability, is that they’ve utilised an enormous amount of data. The more data you have, the better your AI technology will be - simple as that.

When it comes to the sheer volume of data in the sports industry – both historically in terms of capturing all games played, and also in terms of granularity (details of locations and times of games played) – no other company has the volume of sports data we have at Stats Perform.

We cover all sports and we capture details of them at a depth no other company does, which positions us as the best sports AI company.

The goal of our AI technology is to help all segments of the sports industry to make better and quicker decisions, as well as to do things they couldn’t beforehand.

Can you give us an example?
Football (soccer) is a hard sport to analyse because it’s low-scoring, continuous and strategic. For these reasons, the current statistics used, such as possession percentage, number of passes, corners and tackles, don’t correlate with goals scored and who won the match.

Our AI-based metrics, such as expected goals, quality of passes and playing styles, correlate far more accurately with the number of goals scored when compared with standard statistics. Our AI metrics measure performance better.

Using these AI tools, we were able to show how UK team Leicester City won the 2015-16 English Premier League title. Basically, it wasn’t the goal-scoring exploits of players Jamie Vardy or Riyad Mahrez that won the game, the result was down to goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel, who saved five more goals than the average Premier League goalkeeper, and their defenders who intercepted the most 50-50 balls – especially midfielder Ngolo Kante.

What else can your software do?
There are things in football that can’t be measured reliably by humans, such as a team’s formation.

Using our AI techniques – most notably our unsupervised clustering method – we can automatically find a team’s formation at every frame of a match. We’re very proud of this, as we’re the first group to be able to do this and it’s a central feature of our Edge football software.

Outside football, we‘ve also recently launched a couple of new AI-based products for analysing NFL and NBA, called VQ and Insights.

The VQ (victory quotient) system, uses our wealth of data in both the NBA and NFL, as well as our deep learning models to provide predictions of performance of every player in every match. That’s the power of AI, as we can scale our models to provide these predictions for every match being played.

Additionally, we’ve launched our Insights Live product, which provides notable information during every match using our deep data, in tandem with our natural language generation platform, which is another great example of using AI to scale and provide information where it wasn’t previously available.

How is AI changing the world of sports for consumers and competitors?
The reason sport is so compelling is that it’s played and coached by humans who are constantly making decisions in the heat of the moment – often the wrong decision.

Every single decision that a coach or player makes can be broken down, analysed and debated and at Stats Perform, we have the data on every decision coaches and players make, which means that by using our AI technology, we can provide objective analysis on each decision.

This is compelling for front-offices as we now have a better measure of performance.

It’s the same for audiences at home. Every sports event is now a talking point and we can make it even more compelling by providing a reliable prediction service for consumers.

Our AI technology is also the ultimate decision analysis tool, enabling everyone associated with the sports world to make better decisions.

Sports are increasingly being broadcast and consumed via mobile and the internet and this means raw and AI-based metrics are required to make more interactive and compelling experiences.

How can AI maximise old data?
We have the most sports data on the planet. To continually improve, we want to collect even more, with a granularity that a human could not do manually. That’s how our AutoStats functionality works.

This utilises computer vision, which captures a player’s skeleton from a broadcast video frame and then provides player tracking and event data.

Our goal is to collect tracking data from every sports video that has ever existed – which essentially enables us to travel back in time.

Take basketball as an example: tracking systems were not available in the 80s or 90s, so capturing the performance of Michael Jordan has not been possible... until now.

Using AutoStat, we can capture data from historical videos, enabling us to do comparisons of players across eras.

Will AI take the magic out of sport?
I get asked that question often. My honest belief is that we’re making sports better. Instead of it being a mere athletic endeavour (ie, the fastest and strongest prevail), we’re adding a cognitive dimension to the equation, where players and coaches have to also hone and perfect their cognitive function to best prepare for (and predict) the strengths and weakness of opponents.

How will AI change sport?
Currently top professional athletes receive the best analysis and coaching. AI technology will democratise this to the point that everyone, whether amateur or professional, kid or adult, can receive the best analysis and coaching for free.

More: StatsPerform.com

About Stats Perform
Based in Chicago
Founded in 1981 by John Dewan
Collects the world’s largest amount of sports data
Clients include media outlets, sports leagues and teams, fantasy sports and sports betting services
Pioneers in the computer vision tracking space, using it since 1999
Provide immediate insight on gameplay from more than 45 different sports
Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

Alexa can help you book classes, check trainers’ bios and schedules, find out opening times, and a host of other information
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

Our results showed a greater than 60 per cent reduction in falls for individuals who actively participated in Bold’s programme
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

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Profile

Sohail Rashid

35 million people a week participate in strength training. We want Brawn to help this audience achieve their goals
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features