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IBM Watson is serving up a smarter experience for U.S. Open fans

Watson is helping tennis fans at Arthur Ashe and around the world find more information about the game they love.

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NEW YORK — When fans follow this year’s U.S. Open on the tennis tournament’s mobile app, they will find new features enabling them to track analytics on the court or even find hamburgers at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology is being used at the tournament for the first time, and that means fans can type into their devices questions using natural language and be able to find the nearest restroom or place to buy a smoothie on site. The app learns from previous interactions and refines its responses over time.

For fans following the action at home, Watson is being used to generate captioning for the U.S. Open’s on-demand videos and also identify players and celebrities from photos using visual recognition. That leads faster publication of the United States Tennis Association’s digital offerings for fans and media members.

“We want to ensure that fans know that we are the source for all things U.S. Open, that they’re not going to any competitive websites or other digital outlets to get it from someone else,” said Kirsten Corio, the USTA’s managing director of ticket sales and digital strategy. “We want it to be from a source that is fast as possible, and IBM is great at helping us do that.”

IBM SlamTracker, the scoring application for the U.S. Open, is also being made available on mobile for the first time. Besides the ability to track points, stats and serve speed, SlamTracker upgraded its second-screen experience this year and can now offer situational analysis for pressure situations. For example, how well does Serena Williams perform down love-40 in games against unranked players?

“Two, three years ago we saw this tipping point where people were engaging more in mobile than in desktop platforms,” said Noah Syken, IBM’s vice president of global sponsorships and client executive programs. “So we brought our SlamTracker application into the mobile age so that folks can get great data, great statistics, great analytic insights right in their mobile phone, which we all know is how people really consume information these days.”