Chinese tech company develops AI coach to help athlete win at Beijing 2022
Published: Feb 15, 2022 09:25 PM
Photo: Courtersy of Chinese AI technology company Xiaoice

Photo: Courtersy of Chinese AI technology company Xiaoice

A Chinese tech company has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) backed referee and coach system that not only helped train domestic athletes, one of whom won a gold medal during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, but also participated in judging more than 40 test events at the Games. 

The system, named Xiaoice CV Analysis Model for Winter Sports, was developed by a top Chinese AI technology company called Xiaoice. The system was made to be accessed in the form of an AI being with the help of the company's Xiaoice Neural Rendering (XNR) technology. 

The AI is presented as a handsome young man. "He" was also given a special voice and character, as well as a human name - Guanjun, which sounds like "champion" in Chinese. 

According to a statement shared by Xiaoice with the Global Times on Tuesday, Guanjun has served China's freestyle skiing aerials team for about three years. On Monday evening, one of the team's athletes - Xu Mengtao - won a gold medal in the women's freestyle skiing aerials, marking the first time that an AI entity had directly been involved in training for an elite sporting event, which delivered gold to the competitor.

Guanjun's training services were made possible by the company's CV analysis model for winter sports, which incorporates the firm's computer vision and Xiaoice Avatar Framework technology, the statement said. The system helps analyze an athlete's movements during daily training, identify movements that would lose points, and select the best movements made during the session. 

It can also provide multidimensional analysis related to indicators such as sports tracks and rotating angles, from the perspective of event judges. 

The system also establishes a unique sports file for every athlete based on data generated from long-term observation, thus helping the formation of a scientific training plan for every athlete. 

Besides coaching, Guanjun also assumes the task of referee, as "he" has participated in judging 44 times during domestic test events in early February 2021, including individual preliminary finals and team preliminary finals. 

"His" judging work has also been recognized by the International Ski Federation as well as the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the company said. 

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games has seen the application of many innovative technologies. For example, Xiaoice also designed a virtual weather broadcaster named Feng Xiaoshu to be in charge of broadcasting weather indices. 

Virtual sign language hosts have also performed during the Games, helping with translation using sign language for the athletes. 

Li Di, CEO of Xiaoice, said that the company plans to make more AI beings for the sports industry, including coaches, virtual employees at sports venues, sports anchors and designers for sports brands.