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UFC 219 Will Have A Test Run Of AI-Inspired Glove Sensors

December 13, 2017 | Posted by Joseph Lee
UFC 219 Cyborg Justino Holly Holm

MMA Junkie reports that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has approved of a test run for new UFC-approved glove sensors that uses AI and analytics to give statistics for a fight. Select fighters at UFC 219 will have the sensors. It measures punch strength, stress and more, which will be interpreted in real time. The idea is to allow fans to have a better idea of what’s happening inside the cage with new stats that get shown during the events. The test run is to see if the information is accurate and useful.

The UFC pitched the idea during a NSAC hearing in Las Vegas today, claiming that it can improve fighter safety, concussion protocols and training methods. There were some concerns, however, about how the data is used and stored. NSAC Chairman Anthony Marnell compared it to Sabermetrics in baseball but said the data could influence judges if they see the information on their TV monitors during a fight. He suggested that the UFC work with the NSAC to figure out how to implement it.

Before the findings are released, the NSAC wants to sign off on it. Commissioner Raymond “Skip” Avansino said the last time sensors were used, the data was sent out without permission. The deal for the new product began in 2016 after Endeavor CEO and UFC co-owner Ari Emanuel helped make a deal between analytics company AGT International and consumer platform company HEED. A live demonstration happened at the tech conference “AWS re:Invent 2017″ last month. There was a mock sparring session between Edson Barboza and Mark Diakiese. After that, HEED co-founder Mati Kochavi said the sensors created seventy new bits of information about what happens in a fight. The sensors on the gloves create “12 different stories.” There are also senors in the canvas to measure movement and range, with more sensors monitoring cornermen and a fighter’s family members.

Kochavi said the date is examined by an “AI agent” from a detailed “world graph” of data points, measuring attributes like a fighter’s style, emotion, energy and the environment of fans, referee and media. It can then send that information to fans through a smartphone and fans can decide which bits of info they want to see.

Kochavi said: “Those insights are covering entire aspects of the fight between Diakiese and Barboza. They cover their passion, the power of the fight, the resiliency, the strategy. All of those things happen in the octagon. Shouldn’t we tell the story of sport that way? Shouldn’t sport be told in real time, with real data, with real information, and with real insights, and the real emotions? We are a company which is trying to revolutionize the way we’re going to (broadcast) sports and live events.

The changes won’t be shown immediately at UFC 219, but the data will be collected during the event on December 30. It happens at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

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UFC 219, Joseph Lee