Watson: A Barbie?

November 9, 2018

IBM’s Watson is starting to remind me of Barbie. Why is Watson reminding me of the popular doll?

Watson, like Barbie, has had many interests and careers. She embraces fashion styles and, apparently, so does, Watson.

Watson moonlights as a chef, race car driver, medical worker, sports commentator, fan guide, hotel concierge, professor, and many more. Yes, we know that Watson is a sophisticated machine learning AI, while Barbie is a toy.

However, the similarities are uncanny. Biz Journals shares how Watson is now being used as a tennis coach: “IBM’s Watson, AI Now Involved In Coaching Top Players In Tennis.”

Watson has been deployed in many sports to create the ultimate fan experience, but now players are using them to improve their game. The US Tennis Association (USTA) is using Watson’s advanced AI to watch thousands of tennis videos to create customized reports for pro and junior players. AI is very powerful because it can track metadata, form patterns, and objectively analyze it. IBM and the USTA are both happy with Watson:

“ ‘We are treating video really like a rich data source,’ said Elizabeth O’Brien, program director, IBM Sports & Entertainment Partnerships. ‘How can we actually see all the things that are hidden in video and turn that into data.’

Martin Blackman, the USTA’s general manager of player development, said the data has helped create a new statistic that measures acceleration and deceleration of players. ‘We are able with Watson to look at a player’s acceleration, movement and speed over the course of the match and show them how their court position improves when they are moving at an optimal level,’ he said.”

Before Watson, human taggers used to manually watch footage and tag important moves. The entire process took two hours, while Watson can digest the footage in two minutes. The USTA can deliver instant feedback to players.

Watson’s uses appear to be endless and can save hundreds of human work hours. Now that time can be used on something else, such as improving your backhand.

I had a Barbie when I was much younger. That Barbie wore a tennis outfit and had a tiny racket. Racket?

Whitney Grace, November 9, 2018


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