Tech for fans and planners puts thrill back in events

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As more events go virtual, a new Alibaba unit has shown how sports events can be planned and arranged, optimising positioning "without moving a single piece of physical kit".

The AI-powered solutions from Alibaba Cloud - the tech unit controlled by Jack Ma, who also owns the South China Morning Post - were shown during its 2020 Apsara Conference last week. The solutions - set to transform and digitalise the way sports entertainment is organised, broadcast and consumed - promise to "bring spectators closer to the events' centre stage" for more personalised and interactive engagement, while helping organisers and broadcasters operate more efficiently, effectively and securely.

Alibaba Cloud's cloud-based Event Simulation Services are powered by elastic compute. "With the ability to create a digital twin, ESS negates the time, expense and risk of physical tests and run-throughs, providing a comprehensive digital examination of a venue for all key stakeholders," said a spokesperson. "When it comes to event broadcasting planning, ESS enables broadcasters to simulate and test different camera positions before installing camera tracks, thereby offering audiences the best point of view."

ESS will also provides organisers with insights for post-event analysis for more effective future planning.

Also shown was a 'digital badge system' which embeds access control and essential event information with digital accreditation for large events, doing away with the need to print a paper ticket. Card holders can receive expiration and other notifications in real-time, and event organisers are able to embed health advisory information.

Technology for virtual media briefings using proven live and on-demand streaming technologies, and a Fan Video Hub product to enable sports fans from all over the world to support their favourite teams and athletes more personally, were also shown.

A common denominator is helping event organisers cut unnecessary travel. "We want to maximize the thrill of sporting achievements, while enabling event organisers to work safely and even more efficiently with fans and global broadcasters," said Alibaba Cloud Intelligence's international business president Selina Yuan.

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