How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Sports Playing Field

The Sports Techie community blog looks at how recent advances in AI are already changing training and other aspects of sport as well as for casino bonus betting fans and what the future might hold.

AI Means Big Business In Sports

How AI is Changing Sports and the Online Bonus Betting Industry

Every professional sportsman is a fierce competitor, hungry for whatever edge they can get. Recently, this has come through advances in sports psychology and nutrition, but there’s a new game in town: artificial intelligence.

NFL Training With AI

AI in the NFL

Throughout history, whether for sport or combat, people have taken training very seriously. Roman soldiers drilled with heavier swords than those they fought with to help build up muscle, and medieval knights would spend their leisure hours in peacetime galloping towards and pointing several feet of steel-tipped wood at one another, just to keep in shape should war roll around. In more recent decades, sports training has taken a more scientific approach, measuring performance, focusing on healthy diets to optimize fitness, and using psychology to encourage athletes to keep their mind on what’s within their control and forget about matters they can’t change.

The rapid advance in computing power year on year means that artificial intelligence is already being used in sports training. In 2019  the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and their accelerator, One-Team Collective, invested in ByteCubed Labs to create a mixed reality training (and fan engagement) platform utilizing artificial intelligence. These training products are intended to be sold to professional and collegiate sports teams, with Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears amongst the early adopters.

In football, and many other sports, learning how opponents behave is standard preparation to defend and counter their tactics. The advantage of using AI is that, instead of using television footage, players can experience what opponents do in a hologram-type environment. This approach allows teams to model any play an opposing team might attempt, and, crucially, cuts down on injuries that might occur with more traditional training methods.

However advanced AI gets, one of the thrills of live sport is the human dimension, not knowing how men and women will cope with the pressure. That uncertainty is perhaps why betting on sports and in casinos remains so captivating, and why the online betting industry has seen such a rise in popularity. Of course, the downside is that it’s possible to lose, but if you take advantage of a no deposit casino offer, a type of free spins bonus especially, that are offered at online casinos, then you can enjoy all the excitement of betting without the risk of losing your hard earned money.

Let the F1 Racing Sim Begin

Other Uses of AI

Formula 1 is at the cutting edge of technology in many areas, and one of these is the simulator drivers use to either learn or refamiliarize themselves with each track before the race weekend begins. As AI grows more advanced it may become possible for these simulations to advance beyond being simply practice at circulating around the track, and enable the simulation to include highly accurate representations of virtual competitors. Not only might this improve driver performance, it could also help advance the already data-heavy business of team strategists trying to create contingency plans for countless possible race variations.

Another area of sports that can benefit from AI is one you might not expect: betting. Billions are wagered on sports every year, all around the world, from cricketing with the Indian Premier League, to the soccer elite in England, Spain, and Italy. Even in the US, not as gambling-friendly as some other nations, hundreds of millions get wagered on the Super Bowl alone. But how could AI help?

Algorithms can be fed data (sports stats, in this instance) which can then be analysed and used to predict future winners. The more powerful the AI, the more complex the algorithms and the more accurate the forecasts. There are at least two potential drawbacks. First off, blind luck. Players can get sick or injured, and even if your F1 pick is driving perfectly, his engine might just burst into flames (or he might be rammed by a less skilled driver).

Perhaps more importantly, bookies are not daft and their business relies upon finishing ahead. So it might just be that if algorithms and AI actually do become strong predictors of sports, then the advantage won’t be felt by individual punters, but by the betting firms.

Advances in AI also means improving robotics technology. There are numerous potential applications for this in a variety of sports. For example, a runner could have a robotic assistant (whether on land or in the air) keep pace for them. Boston Dynamics in particular have created some astonishing robots, from the famously sure-footed dog to bipedal humanoids. Not only might these keep pace, they could also carry extra gear, and log data automatically. On an individual basis such use of robots will likely be some way off, but in the professional sphere we might see them sooner rather than later.

Cricket

Some sports naturally have a hi-tech feel (Formula 1, for example). But technology can make appearances even in the most traditional of sports. Some tech start-ups are now trying to add wearable tech to cricket bats. These smart devices would capture a vast amount of data with each stroke played, allowing batsmen to review in immense detail the varying speeds, angles, and results of their batting. And, as ESPN has reported, no less a figure than former Australia captain Greg Chappell seems taken with the promise of wearable technology in cricket.

Robot Sports

Robots have caught the public’s imagination perhaps most obviously with the pure spectacle of combat. TV shows such as Robot Wars, pitting robots designed by teams of amateurs against one another, have become something of a cult hit. But these are traditional radio-controlled robots. When it comes to more advanced robots, there are some genuine sporting competitors.

The World Cup is one of the biggest sporting competitions around, and the RoboCup is the robotic equivalent. Admittedly, there’s a lot of work to do, due to heavy batteries and a lack of dexterity, but organizers aspire to have teams better than humans by 2050. In 2018, Korea held the first robot skiing contest with eight teams competing for a $10,000 prize.

There has also been a driverless car competition. Roborace uses AI to compete in vehicles that have far less need of safety because there’s no squishy organic component sat in the middle of it. The question is: can a robotic sporting series match up to the human drama of flesh and blood competitors?

Robots With AI Are Sport Friendly

Sports Techie, AI is changing sports at light speed, no doubt about it. The future looks like an AI-driven puzzle of moving pieces coming together to help sport performance and wagering alike.

The NFL is slow to adopt to changing technology but they understand how important it is to make changes for the sake of growing the sport, player safety and adding another significant revenue stream in betting via AI.

Cricket on the other hand is ready and willing to infuse tech into their sports that boats a least one billion fans worldwide. I have picked up many a cricket fan while driving for Lyft. MLB could learn from cricket’s sports tech adoption.

AI in sims are a sporting natural. Growing up I loved how in Star Trek: The Next Generations, Captain Jean-Luc Picard would sail the seven seas on Earth in the Enterprise’s holodeck. Fathom that for a second and the amount of AI it would take to make it so. He would enter into one of the ship’s rooms, turn of the holodeck and be instantaneously on board a sailing vessel on the ocean while never leaving the room. Take into consideration so many factor to create this simulation such as changing weather, rough seas and sword fights with invading pirates (of course AI would prevent any injury from occurring as long as the settings were set that way). The new Star Trek: Picard series starts on January 23 on CBS All Access. I wonder if the Admiral will use the newest Holodeck technology? His character starts off depressed because of the loss of Lieutenant Commander Data, a synthetic life form with AI.

Data was the master of learning anything, including sports and combat. The movie, Real Steel, released nearly ten years ago in 2011, was amazing in that it showed the potential of robotic fighting as a sport, and one you could bet on to boot. Robot camel jockeys are already a thing. Would AI-robots racing space ships around the moon or somewhere beyond our solar system be an event that would captured fans attention on Earth? For sure don’t you think!

Place your AI inspired wager on it to happen soon enough.

See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!

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