The Australian Tennis Open is a huge event over there in Oz and one that I very much enjoyed being surrounded by the ‘buzz’ of when I was living over there, despite not being a great tennis fan. And Australians do like their outdoor and experiential media. So I was drawn to how IBM have brought some innovative ideas into how we interact with the tennis in Melbourne this year.
Firstly they have a nice little live data driven game called ReturnServe. It takes and analyses one of the latest serves produced by the tennis players in real life and allows you to pit yourself against this simulation of something that has just happened on the court. It’s a simple job of just using your mouse to hit it back but I guess the fun is in pitting yourself again a tennis star in almost real time. Possibly more interesting is that the game then analyses your attempted swing as well and then gives you tips on how to return the serve on another go.
You can then find out all manner of live stats about the ball itself, it’s speed and even the Newtons it produced. Live stats on how the tennis star is currently performing in this game, stats about the court at the moment and so forth. For instance, I now know that Maria Sharapova just won over there very late at night in stifling 35 degree heat and 21% humidity. Amongst many other things.
By the way, you will see on the news about players rightly complaining about having to play in 42 degree heat. My Oz friends have reported temperatures of 46 to 48 in Melbourne today. Now that’s hot!
The experiential side of things comes in via the use of a few virtual reality installations in Melbourne and Sydney where people can don an Oculus Rift headset and are challenged to then try and return the serve of the latest star serving as above. Sounds like something that will go down well whilst people are out and about and looking to have fun with friends. There are installations at both Melbourne and Sydney airports so that’ll capture peoples imaginations a tad whilst they look to while away some time.
There is a lot more to IBM and the Australian Open’s offering here, including full live stats available on the website and on mobile. They have a dedicated second screen iPad app and full in game statistics tracking. Social media is very much to the fore with players and tournament Tweets recorded and analysed for instance. Maria apparently had an 85% positive social sentiment at the end of her game. Which must be nice for her:)
So lots going on here with live data, with the simple but effective online game and VR version being a bit of nice icing as it were. I think that a similar treatment of the forthcoming footie World Cup or the 2015 Rugby World Cup will indeed float my boat. And so time to try and find out what plans are afoot for them then and report back.
Screenshots below from the ReturnServe game.