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How Embedded Vision and AI are Changing the Way We Watch Sports

Embedded vision camera systems and Artificial Intelligence are changing the way millions of people across the world experience sports matches. From better video coverage of sports to using platforms to better monitor and analyze matches, technology is fast changing how audiences engage with their favorite sports. Keep reading to know more.

One of the most well-known incidents in international soccer was when Diego Maradona of Argentina scored a seemingly impossible goal during the 1986 World Cup. Many accused the football legend of using his hand in making the score, therefore making the goal a foul. Later, when Maradona was asked about the goal, he is reported to have said “it was the hand of God”.

Fast forward almost four decades to 2022, such an incident could have easily been watched and analyzed multiple times using high-definition cameras to give a fully-verified verdict. Using state-of-the-art AI, a completely unbiased verdict would have been announced and it would be watched by millions of soccer enthusiasts around the world. Perhaps then, it might have been called “the hand of AI”. These are the possibilities that embedded vision camera systems and artificial intelligence promise to offer in the future.


What is automated sports broadcasting?

Automated sports broadcasting involves live streaming of sports matches and events without the need, or the minimum need, of field operators and film crew. Sports broadcasts, especially large-scale international events, need armies of professionals to operate cameras and the systems associated with them. Automated broadcasting relies instead on camera systems deployed on the premises and automatically sends the feeds to telecast networks or streaming platforms. These systems can be used reliably at any time of the day or night and used irrespective of weather conditions. These systems are a good alternative for amateur sports matches that cannot afford the high costs of a filming crew and are an excellent add-on accessory for larger sporting events.


What is the role of artificial intelligence in automated sports broadcasting?

AI is fast becoming a technology that can be integrated into broadcast systems for multiple uses. It can be used instead of a human operator to decide which camera is used to steam the play in real time. AI can help the cameras focus on individual players, the equipment used in the game, and much more.

In addition to that, they can also be used by referees, team managers, coaches, and hard-core fans to analyze and evaluate teams and their performances. They can also be used to make heat maps and shot charts, and extract detailed player data and statistics.

An automated sports broadcasting setup typically consists of camera systems mounted on tripods, poles, and other strategic locations so as to capture the game as best possible. Each camera unit includes multiple cameras, usually 2 to 4, that work together in synchronization to capture live videos. The cameras in each unit have different capabilities – some may be used for a wider view while others can be used for close-up shots of players or the balls.

The videos are then sent to live-streaming platforms that offer viewers the opportunity to watch from their respective remote locations. This is good news for the venue owners as they can stream the event to a larger number of viewers.

For sports analytics based on AI to deliver data and insights effectively, the camera systems have to be advanced enough to capture video that can be fed to the algorithms. For this, the cameras need to have high-definition video capturing capability(1080p or 4k) as this allows the cameras to zoom in on a particular area of the field (say players, ball, etc). Cameras should also have a high dynamic range to ensure reliable video shooting in changing lighting conditions. They should also support multi-camera setups and 180-degree stitching capability along with an IP-rated enclosure to ensure working ability in all weather conditions.

What does the future of automated sports broadcasting hold

The market for automated sports broadcasting powered by AI has grown significantly as a result of developments in embedded vision. This expansion has also been fueled by the capacity to do edge-based processing and the rise in the computing power of processing platforms. To put things in perspective, as of March 2020, one of the top suppliers of automated sports broadcasting solutions deployed systems in around 6500 venues worldwide. It is safe to say that automated sports broadcasting will continue to develop in the coming future.

Most automated sports broadcast solution providers work on business models where they install the devices free of cost for the venue owners and generate revenue by charging a subscription fee for the live streaming services and AI-based analytics and insights.

Since the revenues depend on the level of detailed insights these platforms can provide, it is likely that we will see smarter AI and better vision systems in the future, as well as a number of use case scenarios in sports analytics in the coming years.


(The author is Mr. Maharajan Veerabahu, Co-Founder & Vice President of e-con Systems and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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