The United States Tennis Association today announced details of the evolution of its digital properties and related extensions that support the tournament and allow fans to capture and experience the excitement of the US Open in new and unprecedented ways.
In 2018, USOpen.org and the US Open App, created in partnership with IBM, will evolve to incorporate significant enhancements. Fans can also look forward to the expansion of additional onsite digital extensions. All of the offerings have been designed to deliver the most-connected and in-depth US Open experience for fans worldwide or on site at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“For the 2018 US Open, we reimagined and rebuilt our digital properties to achieve our dual objectives of providing an immersive experience for fans across the globe and delivering maximum value to the onsite fan,” said Kirsten Corio, Managing Director, Ticketing and Digital Strategy. “With IBM, our tech partner for more than 25 years, we’ve worked to bring the energy and excitement of America’s Grand Slam to fans all over the world in new ways.”
“Showcasing the US Open in near-real time in the digital realm presents unique challenges,” said Noah Syken, IBM’s Vice President, Sports and Entertainment Partnerships. “With technologies such as AI and data analytics, we can deliver a deeper, more meaningful experience for fans everywhere.”
The USTA and IBM will leverage a suite of AI-powered solutions including Watson on the IBM Cloud to analyze matches and create rapid highlights across USOpen.org Digital Properties. ‘AI Highlights’ are created and ranked by a combination of live and historical tennis data, crowd cheering, and player action and facial expressions via visual recognition. AI Highlights greatly simplifies the USTA’s video production process allowing highlights that reach an excitement threshold to be automatically published to the digital platforms. Another key enhancement is the AI Highlights dashboard, which will enable video editors and broadcast partners to quickly identify key moments and document them as a match unfolds, speeding up the USTA’s overall highlights production process.
For this year, AI Highlights will create and publish:
- Match Highlights: All singles matches will have highlights published to all platforms shortly after the matches conclude.
- SlamTracker Highlights: For the first time, rapid highlights will be published during matches within SlamTracker. Fans will now be able to follow its point-by-point commentary and watch top moments shortly after they occur.
- Player-Based AI Highlights: Fans that favorite players on the US Open App and within the Facebook Messenger bot will receive highlights showcasing each player’s best points at the conclusion of their matches.
- AI Highlight of the Day: The @usopen Twitter account will publish the top AI-ranked highlight each day.
Expanded “Mission Control” Smart Grounds Map
With the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center’s five-year transformation now complete, fans need to be able to navigate the new grounds and discover what’s happening in real time. In its second year, the US Open Grounds Map, accessible via the US Open App and USOpen.org, has expanded to truly become the “mission control” for the fan experience onsite. This geo-location-aware, AI-powered smart map shows real-time scores overlaid on each court, where players are practicing, and where fans are in relation to the nearest restrooms, guest services, and dining options. Every eatery is detailed in the map with full menus and photos and, new for 2018, the map has been expanded to include all transportation and parking options. Finally, the map is integrated with the tournament’s AI-powered Guest Info feature so that fans can ask direct questions to find specific services.
Guest Info presented by American Express
US Open Guest Info presented by American Express will continue to be the physical onsite assistance center for fans as it has for over 10 years, and will now be available digitally across more platforms than ever before. Expanding on its widely-utilized app-based concierge in 2017, the USTA and IBM have now expanded US Open Guest Info chat functionality across all US Open digital platforms.
The Guest Info digital concierge utilizes Watson Assistant API and has access to real-time tournament data to answer fans’ questions around scoring, tournament schedules, transportation to and from the tournament, and dining options including menus. Guest Info is location-aware, enabling it to provide contextually relevant, real-time answers to fans onsite looking for the closest dining option, a specific match, or catch their favorite player practicing.
New for 2018, the Guest Info chat feature will also be available via Facebook Messenger, with the added ability to follow specific players and get real-time scoring and schedule updates.
New for 2018, fans that install the 2018 US Open App on iOS devices will be able to experience matches in AR. Combining scoring, player position and ball tracking data, the USTA and IBM will expose fans to a three dimensional rendering of the match. Additionally, for the first time, fans will be able to point their devices towards flat services and, utilizing the device’s camera and AR Kit, project the court onto the surface allowing them to interact with the match in a whole new way.
The IBM Experience
The IBM Experience is new this year, designed to introduce fans to the technology that powers the digital experience of the US Open for more than 10 million fans around the world. It will feature stunning visuals of SlamTracker, the IBM Cloud, and IBM Watson, one of the most powerful AI engines in the world. Guests will be able to test Watson’s ability to recognize the sights and sounds of the game, and create their very own “AI Highlight” in the process.
CHASE Charge and Watch
The CHASE Charge and Watch device will enable more fans onsite at the US Open to charge their phone and watch live video simultaneously via the US Open App while they explore the grounds – all without using any cellular data. For the 2018 tournament, there will now be more charging devices and distribution points across the grounds to offer this convenience to more fans.
As the US Open’s Official Payments Partner, American Express is leveraging the USTA’s decision to enhance its contactless payment acceptance by creating the AMEXBand – a wristband that uses wireless technology to allow Card Members to pay with a tap of the band and unlock an extensive suite of exclusive benefits to enhance and support their US Open experience.
Card Members can pick-up and activate their AMEX Band (one eligible American Express Card per band) at a number of locations at the US Open including the US Open American Express Fan Experience, South Plaza and American Express Radio Satellite Booths. Once enrolled, with a simple tap, Card Members can use the AMEX Band to:
- Seamlessly purchase concessions (restaurants, suites and mobile carts excluded) and merchandise
- Access the American Express Card Member Club and exclusive merchandise for purchase in the US Open American Express Fan Experience
- Access to the new Centurion Suite in Louis Armstrong Stadium (exclusively for Platinum and Centurion Card Members)
- Pick up complimentary American Express Radios and mobile phone charger rentals
- Access exclusive screen printed designs for your Ralph Lauren merchandise at the American Express Exhibit in South Plaza
- Enroll their eligible American Express Card to get $20 back after they spend $100+ in one or more transactions on-site at the US Open. Check the app or visit usopen.org/americanexpressbenefits for offer terms and exclusions
To showcase the AMEX Band, American Express partnered with four-time US Open champion Venus Williams for a social and digital content series that highlights everything Amex has to offer at the championships. The series builds excitement for the tournament experience and reminds fans that no matter how you play the US Open, American Express has your back. Fans can view this content on American Express-owned social channels, with support from the United States Tennis Association and Williams as well.
The Ashe ’68 VR Experience
Launching at the 2018 US Open, the Ashe ’68 Virtual Reality Experience brings viewers to the experience of Arthur Ashe’s historic 1968 U.S. Open win, weaving together 360° video re-creations, archival material and evocative, never-before-seen 360° stop-motion sand animation to tell the story. From his walk through the halls of the West Side Tennis Club, to his historic pre-match press conference to his winning match point, the viewer is right there, all presented in Virtual Reality.
US Open digital tickets are again easily managed via the fan’s choice of the US Open app, the Ticketmaster app, or via ticketmaster.com on a mobile website. Fans need only their smartphone to scan their tickets at the gates, transfer tickets to friends or clients, or post tickets for resale on Ticketmaster. Fans can add their tickets to their device’s wallet for seamless entry to the grounds at all gates of the US Open.
US Open Fancam
In Arthur Ashe Stadium, fans can take control of a specialized in-stadium camera to take and share the ultimate selfie. By navigating to Fan Cam within the US Open App, fans can take remote control of one of the eight cameras installed in the roof’s catwalks to zoom into their exact seat location, take a photo and share on their favorite social media accounts.