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In 2016 in my article “ The future of “The Internet of Olympic Games”, I considered Rio as the first Internet of Things (IoT) Olympic games. In Rio we could see how athletes, coaches, judges, fans, stadiums and cities benefited from IoT technology and IoT solutions and somehow changed the way we see and experience sports. Next year we will have opportunity to verify if my predictions for Tokyo 2020 will become a reality and we will name Tokyo as the first Artificial Intelligent (AI) Olympic Games.

During my presentation in Dubai, I explained the audience the incredible way IoT and AI technologies are impacting sports. I dedicated some time explaining how IoT and AI are playing an increasingly significant role in boosting talent, managing health and improving coaching and training. Today these technologies are already enabling athletes to improve performance, coaches to better prepare games, judges to fail less, fans enjoyed with new excited experiences. I also remarked the importance that teams clubs and cities collaborate to make the stadiums more secure and more exciting for fans.

I emphasized how we are creating smart things, the importance of use AI and IoT to make every thousandth of a second count for athletes and coaches and how AI and IoT are used to predict the future of a race, a match or a bet.

I introduced different examples how all sports are using IoT and AI, and of course I share my vision in 10-15 years from now. Can you imagine integrated virtual and real world for sports? Can you imagine mixed teams of robots and humans or super-humans playing new games?

I did not forget to talk about the challenges involved in building machine learning models in sports and the challenges that IoT and AI still have.

I used my speech to raise awareness to the attendants that there is also a dark side in these technologies. We cannot forget that Sport is also a business and therefore enterprises, Governments and individuals can make a wrong use of these technologies.

In summary, it was a great session in which I shared my point of view about:

  • How we want IoT and AI transform coaches, athletes, judges and fans.
  • How we want IoT and AI continue attracting people to the stadiums
  • How we want IoT and AI transform Sport Business.
  • How AI is changing the future of sport betting?

How we want IoT and AI transform athletes, coaches, judges and fans?

Athletes

While the true essence of sport still lies in the talent and perseverance of athletes, it is often no longer enough. Therefore athletes will continue demanding increasingly sophisticated technologies and more advanced training techniques to improve performance. For instance, biomechanical machine learning models of players will predict and prevent potential career-threatening physical and mental injuries or can even detect early signs of fatigue or stress-induced injuries. It can also be used to estimate players’ market values to make the right offers while acquiring new talent.

Coaches

Coaches are using AI to identify patterns in opponents’ tactics, strengths and weaknesses while preparing for games. This helps coaches to devise detailed gamelans based on their assessment of the opposition and maximize the likelihood of victory. In many leading teams, AI systems are used to constantly analyze the stream of data collected by wearables to identify the signs that are indicative of players developing musculoskeletal or cardiovascular problems. This will enable sports teams to maintain their most valuable assets in prime condition through long competitive seasons.

Judges

We tend to think that technology helps make the sport more just when we are victims or witnessed of unjust decision. That´s why we approve inventions like Paul Hawkins - creator of Hawk-Eye, a technology that is now an integral part of the spectator experience when watching sport live or more recently VAR in soccer.

The use of technology allows watch in real time multiple cameras, with aggregated info from sensors (stadiums, things and athletes) to make their decisions more accurate and objective.

We as spectators or fans need more transparency about the exercise’s difficulty, degree of compliance and final score. And we have the technology to do it.

The IoT and AI technology doesn't claim to be infallible - just very, very reliable and Judges also need to be adapted to new technologies.

Fans

Without fans, sports would find it difficult to exist. It is understandable companies are also targeting fans with IoT and artificial intelligence to keep them engaged whether in the stadium or at home.

How we want IoT and AI continue attracting people to the stadiums?

Within the stadiums, sports clubs and many leagues across the globe are incorporating inside and outside the stadium technologies to boost fans unique experiences for fans and not only the 90 minutes.

The challenge is how to combine what the oldest and newest supporters are looking to attend to the stadiums?

How will the stadiums of the future be? I read numerous initiatives of big clubs and leagues, but I am exciting about the future stadium of Real Madrid. I wish the club would allow me to advise them how to create a smart intelligent Global environment to provide each fan with an individual experience, know who is in the crowd, learn fan behaviors to anticipate their needs

How we want IoT and AI transform Sport Business.

“As long as sports remain a fascination for the masses, businesses will always have the opportunity to profit from it. As long as there is profiting to be gained from the world of sports, the investment in and incorporation of technology for sports will continue.”

I read an article warning about the new entirely new world order that is being formed right now. The author explained how 9 companies are responsible for the future of AI. Three of the companies are Chinese (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, often collectively referred to as BAT), while the other six are American (Google, Amazon, IBM, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, often referred as the G.Mafia). The reason is obvious, as far as AI is about optimization using the data that’s available, these 9 companies will manage more of the sport data generated in the world.

Collaboration is needed now to stop this danger and to address the democratization of AI in sports. It is urgent companies and governments around the globe to work together to create guiding principles for the development and use of AI and not only in Sports. This mean we need regulating it but in a different way. We do not want AI becomes in the hands of a group of lawmakers, who are very well read and very smart people but overwhelmingly lack degrees in AI and IoT.

Will AI change the future of sport betting?

The impact of technology on sports cannot be specifically measured, but some technological innovations do raise questions about fairness. Are we still comparing apples with apples? Is it right to compare the speed of an athlete wearing high-tech running shoes to one without?

Whether we like it or not, technology will continue to enhance athlete performance. And at some point we will have to put specific rules and regulations in place about which tech enhancements are allowed.

There is a downside to advanced technology being introduced to sports. Machine Learning models are now used routinely to predict the results of games. Sport betting is a competitive sport itself among fans, but AI can substantially tilt that playing field.

I analyzed many IoT and AI companies for Sports in order to prepare my session. I am scare about the game result predictions capabilities but more scare about the manipulation of competition using AI algorithms with the Terabytes of data collected daily from IoT devices and other sources like social media networks, without the permission of the users.

The sport business market is generating billions of US$ every year but without control and education we could find future generation of ludopaths and a small number of Sports Service Providers controlling the Sports.

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