Alibaba and Intel launch AI-driven athlete-tracking tool

Technology’s Olympics debut will be ‘game-changer’ for audience engagement.

by Steven Impey

Alibaba and Intel launch AI-driven athlete-tracking tool

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba and US technology manufacturer Intel have launched new artificial intelligence-powered (AI) athlete-tracking technology which is being described as a ‘game-changer’ for audience engagement.

Built to run on Alibaba Cloud, the technology uses multiple standard video cameras and leverages deep-learning algorithms to extract 3D forms of athletes in training or competition. That rendering enables coaches to retrieve complex real-time biomechanical data for analysing performance and introduce new training enhancements.

As well as providing athletes with new training data, the technology has been earmarked for use by broadcasters at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to provide fans with insight into how world-class athletes perform and compare against one another.

Chris Tung, Alibaba’s chief marketing officer, said: “With our technological advancements, Alibaba is transforming the sports media and broadcasting industries. We continue to collaborate with industry leaders and drive innovations to create new experiences for the world to enjoy.”

Alibaba enlisted Intel’s latest processor and memory technology to help power the 11.11 Alibaba Global Shopping Festival in Beijing last October, which racked up a record US$30.8 billion worth of transactions within 24 hours.

In December, the group partnered with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to launch the first ever online store dedicated to the Olympics, and, in September, announced the Olympic Broadcasting Services’ (OBS) new OBS Cloud technology to support its content production during the Olympics, and will be run using Intel technology.

If successful, Alibaba and Intel’s athlete-tracking platform is expected to expand into other sports and competitions.

Navin Shenoy, Intel’s executive vice president, added: “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 analyse, dissect and re-examine highlights during instant replays.”