AI + athelets, China Baidu leads a digital sport era in China


In Beijing in February, 2,892 athletes from 91 countries and regions will compete for the largest number of 109 gold medals in the history of the Winter Olympics in a single session. But for hundreds of millions of viewers around the world, understanding every competition is extremely difficult as more than 90% of the Winter Olympics are ultra-high-speed sports. Capturing the slight differences among athletes is the key to deciding the winner, while the process has exceeded the limits of the human eye. Not to mention, there are complex and difficult rules of the game.

Today, Baidu Intelligent Cloud and other technology companies are accelerating the layout of the sports track, using cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, and other technologies to provide technological support for sports, accelerate the Olympics into the digital era, so that the audience can watch more details of the game and fully enjoy the excitement of the game. More importantly, these cutting-edge technologies can also create a champion model for the ideal training process, helping athletes to realize their dreams.

3D + AI to explain technical differences, the audience can also become an expert

Many people love to chat with fellows about the technology of the athletes and the points of the event. But whenever some of us are asked about technical problems, we often have difficulties explaining them clearly. For example, skiing is a high-speed movement of up to 16 meters per second, athletes also need to complete complex tumbling and turning movements in the air at the same time, it is impossible to see each action with the naked eye.

Before, audiences often complained about this issue because they could not see clearly so they could hardly judge fairly and blindly follow the official results. This pain point can be solved by Baidu Intelligent Cloud technology.

“We have created a ‘same field competition’ system through ‘3D+AI’ technology, which turns single-player competition items into ‘multiplayer competition’ and realizes the 3D restoration and virtual overlay of the race images of the championship and runner-up, which is convenient for audiences to see the real-time actions of different players through one track,” introduced Wu Tian, Vice President of Baidu Group, on China’s CCTV-1 General Channel and CCTV-16 Olympic Channel.

At the same time, Baidu Intelligent Cloud quantifies and analyzes the athletes’ actions through technical means, superimposing a series of motion data such as skating speed, soaring height, landing distance, and rotation angle with the original picture. With the technical decomposition of professional commentary, the audience can more intuitively understand the technical differences between athletes in the same field from the perspectives of fluency, completion, difficulty, diversity, and aesthetics.

In addition, Baidu Intelligent Cloud also uses “time and space freeze-frame” technology to let audiences see the action of each competitor. “By framing the continuous action of the time sequence into 3D space, it is like realizing a 3D version of the ‘strobe camera’, through multiple strobes to steadily and accurately capture the high-speed continuous movement, allowing the audience to see every detail of the athlete’s action in all directions,” explained Wu.

Build model of the champion to train athletes

Baidu Intelligent Cloud also helps athletes to achieve scientific training. Its AI coaches play important roles in diving, table tennis, and other teams.

For example, diving has significant data collection problems since athletes can not wear wearable devices while finishing the movement only needs fewer than two seconds. Baidu Intelligent Cloud, together with the Chinese diving team, took one and a half years to complete the technical research, and finally let the AI coach officially on board in April 2021, integrated into the players’ daily training, improving 20% of the training efficiency.

The 14-year-old Quan Hongchan, who won gold with three perfect scores and set a record for the highest score in the history of the event, specifically thanked the AI coach in her Weibo.

During diving training, Baidu Intelligent Cloud AI coach will use 3D visual perception, AI intelligent analysis, and other technologies, with the help of high-speed cameras and other equipment, to record the whole actions of athletes; extract the key actions of athletes, and summarize and organize key actions in 3 seconds; present the height of the air and other important action indicators by the system calculations; automatically identify the action difficulty coefficient and make intelligent scoring.

The emergence of Baidu’s Intelligent Cloud AI coach helps China to train its athletes from different teams and various sports, and further explore the potential talent of the athletes.

AI leads global scientific approach in sports

Today, the integration of sports and artificial intelligence has become a major trend. In 2021, China’s General Administration of Sports released the “14th Five-Year” Sports Development Plan, which proposes to support the innovative use of big data, blockchain, Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and other new technologies in the field of sports.

In many countries, major technology companies have accelerated the integration of AI and sports. Microsoft launched Little Ice AI competitive sports international tournament scoring system to create AI assistant referees. Amazon has joined the North American Hockey League to provide cloud, artificial intelligence, and machine learning infrastructure services.

In China, the digital sports market has formed three types of players: technology companies such as Baidu Intelligent Cloud, which has full-stack technology capabilities in AI, big data, and cloud computing; traditional sports companies such as China Sports Group Industry, which is rooted in the traditional event business and is actively working on digital sports; and technology innovation companies such as Keep, which has its internet gene and focuses on verticals such as fitness big data.

In addition, Baidu Intelligent Cloud’s industry-leading Cloud Intelligence One can help large events to achieve live video in HD, global broadcast of events on the cloud, allowing hundreds of millions of audiences to watch the same game online without lag and enjoy a smooth experience.

A golden era belonging to “AI + sports” is opening.

(Source: CCTV 16, Xinhua, Sina)