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Mobile Apps Score At Wimbledon
IBM Uses Location, Twitter, And Augmented Reality
To Create Amazing Fan Experience

wimbledon_logo2.jpgFor those of you lucky enough to have attended a Grand Slam tennis championship at Wimbledon, you’ll know that it is a wonderful, though sometimes confusing experience.

This year IBM decided to take advantage of the newest mobile technologies to make the event even better. See how they combined location awareness, augmented reality, and twitter feeds to provide a unique branded utility to help fans better enjoy the event.


The championships at Wimbledon can be a bit overwhelming and confusing. With numerous matches being played simultaneously on a dozen tennis courts, plus a wide variety of restaurant and hospitality options, plus many thousand enthusiastic fans, it is not always easy to find your way around or to keep track of what is happening at the moment.

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The Project

IBM has been a sponsor of Wimbledon for almost 20 years, providing realtime scoring and statistics information for onsite use and for distribution over the web to fans around the world.

This year IBM decided to apply leading edge mobile technology to transform the experience of the attendees at the event. Partnering with agency OgilvyOne London, mobile specialist agency XS2TheWorld, and technology provider Mobilizy, they created two very interesting applications.

The Seer Twitter Aggregator

This downloadable Java app provided an easy to use, consolidated source of information about things going on at Wimbledon. It aggregated twitter feeds from press, from players, and special “IBM Scouts” into a single channel which could be easily filtered to focus just on the information that the fan wanted to know.

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The Scouts were a number of people that IBM brought onsite at the tournament in order to provide realtime information about queues at restaurants, availability of seating in various stadiums, taxi lines, comments on match play, etc. This information was fed through Twitter and could be easily followed through the Seer application.

Here is part of the actual twitter feed from the Scouts on the final day of Wimbledon. In each case the blue hashtag on the left identifies where the tweet was sent from. Overall, this provides an interesting chronicle of events at the tournament (it reads from the bottom up, as the newest entry is always placed on the top).

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The Seer Android Beta

This second part of the campaign was an application that provided information about various points of interest at the event. These includes the tennis courts, restaurants, transport links, etc. The application was designed for the Android G1 or G2 phone, and utilized the GPS location capability and the compass of the G1 to present this in a unique way to fans at the tournament.

Here’s how it worked:

  • Before the tournament, each of these points of interest was plotted using GPS and information about each was entered into the Seer system.
  • By knowing exactly where on the grounds the camera was, and in which direction the camera was pointed, the system knew which points of information would be in view.
  • The application fed the image from the Android’s camera directly onto the phone’s screen, in essence showing the user what they were actually seeing. It then would “augment” this view by adding the information relevant to just those points of interest that actually appeared in the screen.

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As there were many points of interest at Wimbledon, the application also gave the user the possibility to select which category of information they were interested in. In this way, only relevant information would be displayed.

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And once someone had decided where at the event they wanted to go, naturally the application would provide a simplified map showing current location and the location of the desired point of interest.

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Live feeds to liven it up

To make the Seer application even more dynamic and engaging, a variety of other information was also added in.

  • When the phone was pointed at one of the courts, a live feed from the court scoring system provided up to the minute match scores as well as indicating what subsequent matches would take place there.
  • Feeds from the Scouts were integrated so that up to date information from each location could also be seen.
  • A ‘Timeline’ view provided an aggregation of newsfeeds and Scout reports.
  • A ‘Radar’ function provided an interesting overview of the person’s current location and nearby points of interest.

Take a look at the clip below to see a short video of the Android Seer application in action.

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Conclusions

These two applications show how powerful new mobile technologies can be when thoughtfully applied to a real world situation. Although there was clearly a huge amount of effort involved in putting together this campaign and running it live on site, it definitely gives us a view of the kind of mobile world we are all going to be living in soon.

Rob McCowen, Marketing Director at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, said “I can see the incredible potential here to change the way people will engage with major sporting and other events both now and in the future, as the applications help address common challenges such as getting lost, encountering queues or momentarily missing some of the action.”

Alan Flack, IBM Client Executive for the AELTC summed it up this way, “We recognised that people come to Wimbledon to watch tennis, so anything we can do to help make their day smoother, to help them find what they are looking for quickly and efficiently just makes their visit more enjoyable. By exploring new technologies, we can bring information to life by making it more useful, engaging and accessible.”

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