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How AI wowed at Tokyo Olympics 2020

by Team IA, August 12, 2021

If you, like us, were glued to your screens all through the Tokyo Olympics you may have experienced the same excitement at the free throw-shooting robot in the arena. The basketball playing Japanese robot, CUE, wowed us all with an impeccable half-court shot and was a showstopper despite the presence of all worthy human players from across the world. The almost seven-foot robot has been developed by the Toyota engineers and works with sensors on its torso while it has a camera near its nose which helps determine the basket angle as well as the distance of the shot. It may be slow and according to a Toyota engineer it will take years before this robot learns to run or dunk, but it has the advantage of not having to deal with stress due to its AI software.

This is not the only instance of the use of AI in the Olympics. Olympic sports have been the torchbearers of the use of tech for the betterment of sports since as long back as 1948 when the  Olympics first used an electronic time-keeping equipment by Omega called the Magic Eye camera to track the run time of racers in Olympic games. Cut to Tokyo 2020 Olympics, when Omega still is the official timekeeper of the Olympics, only now, the company uses more sophisticated cameras which come enabled with computer vision to track the movement of the ball along with the beach volleyball players. Omega has, infact, trained its AI to pick different shots and moves. This, coupled with gyroscopic sensors in the clothing of  the racers/players give near-perfect information of their movement as well as that of the ball. The combination of these technologies gives an unparalleled data accuracy. Several sports use AI for precision and fairness purposes. In gymnastics AI is used to detect the pose of the athlete and to check how precisely they hit the middle of the mat for example. Road and track cycling benefits from the motion sensor tags on the bikes.In swimming too, image recognition technology and measuring metrics count the number of strokes and determine the live speed of the swimmers and even the distance between them.

The 3D Athlete Tracking (3DAT), which is the result of a collaboration between Intel and Alibaba, uses computer vision and was used at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene for the first time before being incorporated into the Olympics at Tokyo. Another improvement of 3DAT will soon help close the performance gap and this will help elite athletes. 3DAT helps athletes by making them comprehend their body’s real actions when in motion, so that they can tweak their bodily actions to get better and better.

It is safe to say, AI too, wowed us at the Tokyo Olympics. If you have any questions or comments about AI in sports, write to us at

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by Team IA

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