UPDATED 19:48 EST / JANUARY 08 2019


Alibaba and Intel to partner on 3-D athlete tracking for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is working with Intel Corp. on a new “athlete tracking technology” powered by artificial intelligence that the Chinese cloud computing and e-commerce giant says could be a “game changer” in terms of audience engagement.

The technology, built to run on the Alibaba Cloud platform, is intended to provide “complex real-time biomechanical data” to coaches, who will then use it to analyze athletes’ performances and come up with new training techniques.

To obtain that data, the system uses a combination of multiple video cameras and deep learning algorithms that can extract 3-D forms of the athletes in training or in competition. The technology is also intended to be used by TV broadcasters covering the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which can use the data to provide their audiences with better insights into how athletes perform and compare against one another.

“This technology has incredible potential as an athlete training tool and is expected to be a game-changer for the way fans experience the Games, creating an entirely new way for broadcasters to analyze, dissect and re-examine highlights during instant replays,” Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Center Group, said in a statement.

Technology analyst Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. told SiliconANGLE that the Olympic Games is the perfect stage for the companies to showcase their new technology.

“Athletic 3-D tracking is a perfect showcase as it needs superfast processors and a cloud to run those, store images and elastically deliver insights,” he said. “Humans can only see so much, so it will be very interesting to see what this partnership will be able to come up for Tokyo 2020. It might be a new spectator experience and a total new set of sports-related insights.”

The partnership between Alibaba and Intel builds on a relationship that has already seen the two companies partner on a Joint Edge Computing Platform for enterprises to build “device-to-cloud” systems for the “internet of things,” which was announced last year. Intel also worked with Alibaba to help ensure the latter’s “Singles’ Day” event in November, during which it chalked up $30.8 billion in sales, went off without a hitch. And in September, Alibaba announced it would use Intel’s computer processors to power its new Olympic Broadcasting Services technology that’s designed to support content production during the Olympics.

Image: Intel

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