Steve Ballmer shows off his AI-powered basketball broadcast


Steve Ballmer wants to upgrade your basketball viewing experience. 

The former Microsoft CEO and owner of the LA Clippers demonstrated some new capabilities of Second Spectrum, a service he’s planning on releasing in 2018 that adds the power of artificial intelligence to the sports watching experience.

At the annual Code Conference, Ballmer showed off a short clip of what the experience would be like for someone watching a basketball game online. As you watch, you could see fantasy scores floating above select players, the percentage chance a player with the ball will actually make the shot, and custom highlight reels from the game.

The animations and features could even be customized to the individual user. That way, Second Spectrum isn’t just for superfans — it could have different animations and info for a person new to the sport than someone who watches every day. There could even be more decorative (or silly, depending on your perspective) animations, like lightning strikes. Ballmer also proposed the service could synthesize the POV of an individual player from several high-def cameras positioned in the arena.

When asked about the broadcast rights of the games, which are locked in for the next eight years, Ballmer pointed out that the local rights are more flexible.

Second Spectrum is far from the first service to add custom animations and information, but the application of AI and adjusting the information in real time is fairly novel. If it really adds value, you can expect the networks to jump on the AI train, too.

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