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US Open?s official mobile app is IBM-powered and AI-enhanced

IBM is bringing the power of artificial intelligence to the US Open?s official event application this year, enabling enhanced features such as a cognitive concierge.

The app makes use of IBM?s Watson AI technology to create a cognitive concierge that can understand natural language and help guide users through the event. The app understands questions such as, ?Where can I park?? and ?Where is the bathroom??

?Watson and its cognitive capabilities allow us to help the US Tennis Association publish video with subtitles and transcripts faster, as well as offer an experience that is more humanlike, such as asking questions in natural language about dining options and transportation to the US Open,? said John Kent, technology program manager at IBM Worldwide Sponsorships.

Artificially intelligent
The Watson-powered features mostly make use of three key APIs provided by IBM: the Natural Language API, the Speech-to-Text API and the Watson Visual Recognition API.

The Natural Language API is what allows users to ask the app questions just as they would in their natural speech. The app will also continuously learn from listening to people ask it questions through Watson?s machine learning capability, meaning that the program will get better at recognizing speech as it is used.

Thanks to its Speech-to-Text API, the app can also generate subtitles and transcripts for video clips posted by the US Open throughout the day, allowing for a larger volume of clips to be posted and accessed by more people than if the transcripts had to be created by hand by the US Tennis Association.

The Watson Visual Recognition API can also analyze thousands of photos and videos taken during the tournament to help quickly identify players and other notable figures, again allowing the USTA to speedily craft identifiable content for the users. 

This app represents the latest in a long partnership between the USTA and IBM, who have collaborated on the US Open?s digital experience for more than 25 years. 

Mobile companion
The app is not just useful for attendants at the US Open, however. It can also be a useful second screen for those watching from home.

IBM is also introducing its SlamTracker analytics technology to mobile devices for the first time. SlamTracker uses Watson to analyze 41 million data points relating tennis matches, tournaments and players? personal histories.

During matches, for those watching from the stands or from their couches, the US Open app will offer insights on players? historical performance in situations similar to the current one, such as how well they do when down a point or how well they serve.

Users can then share the insights that they find most interesting to their social media accounts with a press of a button.

IBM is no stranger to applying Watson?s cognitive abilities in more than just a research capacity. The same tech that powers the US Open?s ?cognitive concierge? also powers 1800 Flowers? mobile ?gift concierge? (see story).

IBM also shows no signs of slowing its integration of AI tech with brands. Josh Rochlin of IBM spoke at the MMA Mobile Marketing Leadership Forum about the possibilities of cognitive AI as a way for brands to improve audience segmentation (see story).

?AI provides the ability to develop new experiences and new ways to engage fans,? Mr. Kent said. ?Watson's ability to make sense of both structured and unstructured data also is impacting a variety of industries, including medicine, travel, retail, and many others.?