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Football clubs are turning to computer vision for winning insights.

What’s new: Acronis, a Swiss cloud storage and security company, offers AI services designed to give a boost to some of the world’s top football clubs (soccer teams, to Americans), Wired reported.

Eyes on the ball: The company stores training and match video for professional teams including London-based Arsenal, Manchester City, and Inter Milan. An internal group devoted to machine learning for sports is using the data to train AI tools aimed at improving gameplay and marketing.

  • Game analysis applications track players’ movements and analyze tactics, an Acronis spokesperson told The Batch.
  • Acronis didn’t specify which teams use which services, but it said that a team in the English Premier League uses its tools to analyze ticket sales, weather, and other factors to predict match attendance.
  • The company plans to use gaze detection on stadium surveillance footage to spot when fans are paying more attention to the game. Stadiums can use the information to pick the best moments to show ads on their video screens.

Behind the news: Nearly two decades after Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game revealed the use of data analytics in baseball, sports are becoming an active playing field for AI.

  • Basketball teams including the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and France’s FFBB league use AI-enhanced video systems from Keemotion to analyze play for coaches and track the action for broadcasts.
  • Israel-based’s video system identifies the most exciting moments in a sportscast.
  • Japanese tech giant Fujitsu created a tool that uses laser data to track gymnasts’ motion.

Why it matters: Once the four-minute mile was a breakthrough. Now it’s par for the course. Machine learning is set to help athletes continue to upgrade their own state of the art.

We’re thinking: For those of us who aren’t particularly athletic, it’s nice to know that we can help score goals by running our fingers across a keyboard!


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