Gymnastics to get an artificially intelligent twist in the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020

Artificial Intelligence is a topic which is so vast and so huge that one can probably write a thousand-page book about it. The technology is like clay, it can be molded into different shapes and uses as per the requirement. AI is something that is slowly taking over the world and it has not left anything unturned. There are avenues which we would have thought are impossible to exploit have now been taken care of by AI.

That said, it becoming part of every single thing out there is as frightening as it is exciting. The fact that it can learn from its experiences makes it aligned to humans except for the fact that it cannot feel things… yet. The newest route this technology has taken is to the sport of Gymnastics. Yes, you read that right, Gymnastics is a sport of complexity and perfection, perfectly made for AI to intervene and make it better.

In 2015, International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) had a meeting with a Japanese tech giant Fujitsu. The president of FIG, Morinari Watanabe while giving a speech jokingly said that in Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, there will robots judging the sport of Gymnastics. Fujitsu kind of took this joke seriously and has now developed software with AI that can help the judges score a gymnast with perfection.

Fujitsu since has been working with 3D-sensing technology in sports and then coupling with Artificial Intelligence. Not only AI but it has also used LiDAR-technology which is primarily used in autonomous cars. Gymnastic is a sport which is judged by human eyes. Many gymnasts perform the same routine and it is close to impossible to differentiate between them for untrained eyes. This system will help them see a 3D image of the gymnast and tell them the angle of their joint while performing a routine.

The LiDAR technology will be set up on the sidelines, it will shoot lights on the athlete and receive it back to create a 3D image for the judge to see. It will help in judging them without errors and will make the game more fun and accurate. The challenges rose when they first tested it in the World Championship in 2017. It was hard to keep the Fujitsu System from interfering with the broadcasters’ signals and also from the official scoring setup.

The problems were fixed and were tested again in Montreal. And they were technically perfected while in Doha a year later. FIG is going to help athletes with this technology as well. They will give the necessary data to the athletes which will help them analyze their performances in detail. It does not stop here, the images collected from this system will be shown on the big screen so that the fans also understand the sport in depth.

This technology is to be used in the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. It is going to assist the judges and not eliminate them completely. That said, the technology is more complex than the ball tracking system used in the sport of Lawn Tennis or Cricket. It will be interesting to see how the world of Gymnastics copes up with this new technological advancement in their sport.

– Unmesh Phule

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