Back in June of 2016 we reported that the Japan Gymnastics Association and Fujitsu Ltd., a Japanese technology company, were working together on 3D lasers and data processing, artificial intelligence (AI), as a judging aid to assist with calculating scores.
It is now being reported that the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) is moving forward and will implement this new AI technology at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“We must be ready for 2020. We have a responsibility to give the gymnasts the correct score, we cannot accept an incomplete score from a judge in this time. Once gymnasts see it they will like the technology and that is a great thing – to push the technology forward.” FIG president Morinari Watanabe told the Guardian.
The new technology will be able to determine the height of a vault, the degree of separation of an athlete’s legs during a skill, the split angle of a leap and/or jump, the number of twists performed, and so much more. After collecting all this data and then comparing it to a “standard” set by an international gymnastics committee, the AI will then calculate a score.
Fujitsu told the Guardian, “…the product will help make scoring easier, assist coaches and athletes in training, and offer broadcast viewers in-depth, unparalleled [television] coverage…”
One of the goals of this technology is to eliminate any possible subjectivity, favoritism, or even bias by the judges.
“In judges, it’s proven there can sometimes be an inherent bias. A program like this can be helpful for settling issues or technical questions,” Butcher told the Guardian. “This is not to replace judges – not any time soon. We’ll never say that one day we’ll only be using a computer. But who is to say in 20 years from now if things will be different.”
But there is always one or more problems to consider when introducing a new tool into a system that has been in place for decades.
One concern is the possibility of hackers breaking into the system and manipulating the software to the advantage of a particular athlete or country.
Another issue, raised by Nadia Comaneci, is the possibility of an athlete performing skills and/or a routine that the system has not yet encountered. How does the system then score the routine?
British Olympic champion Max Whitlock told the Guardian, “The judges have a very tough job on their hands and sometimes they can get a lot of stink for what they do. It would have to be absolutely perfect. Something like that would be so new to gymnastics it would have to take years and years of testing. It would be very exciting. But it will be a long time in the future, probably not my generation.”
For now, AI will just “assist” judges in 2020 to help calculate an athlete’s score. But the future of gymnastics judging may be changing right in front of our eyes.
Here is a look at the new technology and what it supposedly will be able to do.
Source: futurism.com, theguardian.com