Football and technology appear to go hand-in-hand with one another, especially given the increasing use of VAR technologies across a number of UK and international fixtures. In the run up to this year’s Betting on Football, SBC caught up with Morgan Jacquin, Head of Business Development at SkillCorner, to discuss technological innovation in the world of football.
Jacquin tells SBC readers about SkillCorner’s AI-powered video tracking technology which is set to improve match visualisation and data collection across a number of football leagues.
SBC: For those who are not yet familiar with SkillCorner, can you tell us a little bit about what it is you specialise in?
Morgan Jacquin: SkillCorner is a computer vision startup specialized in automatic football data collection. While most of today’s football data is collected manually, we have built an AI-powered video tracking technology based on deep learning capable of recognizing, positioning and following in real time, the football players, the referee and the ball from any broadcasted game.
Thanks to our technology, we are now able to bring a new depth of data that was previously unavailable. From the millions of data points we collect per match, our goal is to provide the football betting industry with innovative products such as our first live match visualization.
SBC: How does SkillCorner plan to stand out in the sports betting market with your live match visualization product? And how do you ensure your technology does not become outdated?
MJ: We have won the ICE VOX Supplier Challenge back in 2017 when we were only at the R&D stage. It was a sign early on that using tracking technology to create innovative live match visualization will make us stand out from existing products.
Almost all sports betting platforms offer a football visualization tool for their bettors. Still today, none of these visualizations can offer live tracking data as we do. This is a true innovation and we are convinced that it will become a must-have in the near future.
It is setting a new standard for this product range and represents today the best alternative to live streams, whether they are restricted for specific competitions or too expensive for a limited gain.
As far as your second question is concerned, it is only thanks to recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and cloud computing that building algorithms such as ours have been possible. It is the future of sports data collection and our research team is making sure SkillCorner and its technology are staying ahead of the curve.
SBC: Can you tell us a bit about the AI technology involved in your video tracking technology?
We have worked for more than two years with top Machine Learning and Computed Vision scientists to build our technology. It first starts with object detection methods based on deep learning followed with automatic camera calibration to know exactly where the players and the ball are located.
We then track and apply our player recognition algorithms to know the identity of every player. We do all this in real-time with a delay of only 2 seconds. It is important to note that we have the same performance on a Champions League match than on a French Ligue 2 one – even if our algorithms have never seen a player and the jersey from Ligue 2 teams before the start of the match.
SBC: As the desires of sports fans continue to evolve, how important is tracking technology in engaging with a team’s fan base?
MJ: In a fast-paced digital era, sports fans are always in demand for live and innovative content. Live player tracking is bringing the fans closer to what is happening on the pitch when they can’t have access to the live images.
It also opens up for new in-play products and innovative statistics that fans can engage with. The key to success lies in offering a betting experience that keeps players coming back, and we believe our technology will help operators achieve this.
SBC: Can you give us a sneak peek about what it is you will be showcasing at Betting on Football 2019
MJ: Our presentation during the betting on innovation track will be quite visual, from how we collect the data live from the broadcast to how we can use this data for generating innovative products. The best is not to miss it!
SBC: And finally, what in particular you’re looking forward to at this year’s Betting on Football?
There are so many things on this year’s agenda that we’re looking forward to. But if we have to narrow it down to one thing, I would say networking with people interested in innovation and developing successful partnerships.
Morgan Jacquin will be speaking on the “How automated data collection is bringing innovation to live betting” panel at this year’s Betting on Football. The event is due to take place at Stamford Bridge from the 19-22 March, and will feature over 40 different panel discussions between 200 industry experts. Find out more here.