Game, set, match: How technology is shaping the Wimbledon experience
Big yellow balls at the ready
With the world’s oldest – and probably the most prestigious – tennis tournament just around the corner, we thought we’d take a look at some of the tech being used to make this year’s Wimbledon experience better than ever.
The Championships at Wimbledon kicked off back in 1887, and have been going strong ever since. Played on outdoor grass courts, the games are enjoyed by a whopping 13.3 million at its peak, with over 1 billion people following the news around the world.
Despite its long history steeped in tradition, the Wimbledon Championships are no strangers to tech. The All England Lawn Tennis Club – organisers of the Wimbledon Championships – are always looking for ways to improve the Wimbledon experience for both players and spectators.
Here are just some of the high-tech developments they’ve implemented so far to keep Wimbledon on top of its game.
Watching like a hawk
Since 2006, Hawk-Eye has been presiding over play on the centre court. According to Digital Spy:
“Hawk-Eye is a form of ball-tracking technology designed to minimise human error on the umpire’s part by projecting a graphical representation of the ball’s trajectory to a big screen or television display.
The officiating system uses multiple 2D cameras to capture the ball’s flight path and maps out a digital model of the court. It then triangulates data from the 2D cameras to provide a 3D representation of the ball’s position.”
For those that want to add a bit of tech expertise to their own tennis matches, the In/Out device is available for retail purchase this summer. For just $199, casual players can put an end to heated conversations on the courts. The device is small like a camera and can be set upon a net in under a minute.
This video explains how the AI tech works:
Bad news for cheats, but good news for everyone else!
Running with the big dogs
For the last 27 years, tech giant IBM has been Wimbledon’s official supplier of Information and Tech. Seen that fetching green and purple Wimbledon website? It’s built and powered by IBM.
IBM employed some really clever tech at last year’s Wimbledon to improve things for spectators. BBC News covered the story in full last year. Here are a few highlights:
“Cameras linked to IBM’s Watson “machine-learning” platform may be monitoring your facial expressions and trying to work out what emotions you are displaying.
If Watson learns quickly enough over the fortnight, it will apparently be able to work out which player you are supporting just by reading your face.”
If this tech wasn’t exciting enough, there was more:
“On top of this social analysis by IBM’s “cognitive command centre”, sensors and computers at the venue will be collecting about 3.2 million pieces of data from 19 tennis courts across the fortnight. The tech company claims a sub-second response time and 100% accuracy.
This performance-monitoring data – everything from live scores to fastest serves to the number of backhand winners – is made available to fans via smartphone apps, the website, and now Apple TV.”
As lovers of a joined-up user experience, we’re impressed with the way IBM integrates with the official Wimbledon app. We look forward to seeing more developments in the relationship between IBM and Wimbledon at this year’s Championship.
The tipple of choice for most match-side spectators is a glass (or pitcher!) of Pimm’s and lemonade, complete with ice and all the trimmings. On average 320,000 glasses of Pimm’s are served each year!
For those that prefer to stay focused, coffee provider Lavazza will be on hand to provide a hot cup of energy. Last year, they used tech to add a little something extra to their caffeinated offerings. Visitors to the Lavazza coffee machine in 2016 could pick up a cappuccino or latte with the face of a tennis superstar emblazoned in the foam. Visitors could also ‘print’ their own selfies in their drinks if they so desired.
Check it out in the video below:
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 29, 2016
Of course, no Wimbledon experience would be complete without a delicious serving of strawberries and cream. Each year an average of 28,000 kg (140,000 servings) of English strawberries are served!
However, as any true Brit will know, finding those perfectly ripe strawberries can be a challenge. More than 38,000 tonnes of soft fruit/berries, with a value of £180 million, are thrown away by British households every year mainly because they’re not eaten in time. Considering it takes almost half a gallon of water to grow a single strawberry, that’s a massive amount of potential wastage.
Luckily, a new piece of tech has been invented to solve the problem! It’s Fresh! produce a small filter that can sit inside punnets of fruit. They filter the air creating a ‘Freshasphere’ around all kinds of fruit and vegetables, significantly improving quality, reducing waste and increasing sales.
No word on whether Wimbledon strawberries will benefit from the It’s Fresh! tech, but we’ll be tucking in regardless!
Are you heading down to Wimbledon for this year’s competition? We’d love to hear about any more exciting tech you spot – we’re sure there’s loads more we haven’t featured.
Join in the conversation with us on Twitter. Tweet @LuminousPR.