Statistical Data Analysis

Meet Intel's man embedding the chip giant in sport

At first they seem like odd team mates but Intel and sport are forming a tag team that underscores the increasingly tight relationship between technology and mass entertainment.

Jeff Hopper is the man with the enviable task, for sport lovers at least, of making sense of what the world’s biggest semiconductor maker can bring to a sphere of activity that obsesses, enthuses, entrances and makes fools of so many of us all over the world. Hopper runs Intel’s business unit focused on sport and there was a taste of the chip giant’s direction at the recent ICC Champions Trophy in cricket where Intel’s logo was plastered over grounds in England and Wales. But Hopper is at pains to stress that this is no mere branding push where techie companies seek to gain a little stardust from top-level athletes.

“It’s very much a passionate thing and almost everyone all over the world has a love of sport and it gives out brand an even bigger lift [but] primarily we see a big business in sport,” says Hopper who was there at there at the launch of Intel Sports in September 2016.

Read more: NHL team Tampa Bay Lightning is using data analytics to make the fan experience as exciting as possible

Evidence of what Intel might bring came at the ICC tournament where the final match between Pakistan and India was watched in some form by up to one billion people, according to estimates. At the competition, Intel showcased its technology to analyse the batting pitch, often a determinant of how the game will play out, using its Falcon 8 drone with HD and infrared to deliver pictures. It also put its Curie module in bat sensors to analyse speed of bat swing, a decisive factor in how hard batsmen can hit the ball and how far, in a technology called Specular BatSense with Intel Inside. In the Oval (London) and Edgbaston (Birmingham) grounds, fans were also able to use VR to experience what it feels like to face bowling.

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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