NTT DATA incorporates digital twin technology to revolutionise the fan experience at The 150th Open | NTT DATA

Fri, 08 July 2022

NTT DATA incorporates digital twin technology to revolutionise the fan experience at The 150th Open

The world we live in is becoming increasingly personalised. Whether it’s the adverts we see, the entertainment we consume, or how we work, travel and communicate, almost every aspect of our lives is delivered through a personalised medium using data. As a result, organisations invest significant amounts of time and money into optimising this data in order to personalise the experience they give their customers.

The amount of data available to organisations is already large and rapidly growing. The ability to acquire, process, understand and exploit this data is a primary driver of competitive advantage. Mastery of data drives better customer experiences. Moreover, we increasingly see data as a resource and asset in its own right. NTT DATA is working with its clients to help them mature, grow and create value from their data.

Translating the experience into sport

There are few areas where the prominence of data is more visible than in sports. In recent years, the consumption of sport, whether in person or through online and broadcast media, has become synonymous with a constant stream of real-time data, insights, comparisons, overlays and predictions. Data is as important as video and audio content in enhancing the fan experience along with the fusion of this into complimentary and easy to consume formats.

This connection is evident in golf too. There are millions upon millions of data points behind every golfing event. Whether it is the angle of the slopes on the green, pin placement, the length of the rough, the strength of the wind, or how a player has performed on a specific hole in previously years – you name it, they all matter. Furthermore, everything can change at any moment – if it rains, suddenly the odds of a particular player winning completely changes.

These variables are the essence of what makes golf interesting. Tiny differences can have huge impacts; details matter and the more data fans have access to, the richer their experience becomes. NTT DATA's partnership with The Open over the past decade is founded on this principle. We strive to give fans access to as much data as possible in an exciting and dynamic format to enhance their experience.

Technology is opening the door to a new fan experience

From 2013 to 2019, NTT DATA's involvement in improving fan engagement at The Open has centred around the NTT DATA Wall, a large-scale event installation using advanced infographics. This showcases insights from around the course to fans in the spectator village, providing statistics and facts on players and holes to accompany the event's live broadcast. The inclusion of AI-driven facial expression and body posture analysis, were all utilised to provide fans with unique insights into the emotions of the golfers at crucial moments, embellishing the drama of the sport and creating an even more engaging experience for spectators.

Last year saw a change in how we approached the fan experience. To reach as many fans as possible, we created a unique and personalised online virtual data experience. Hosted on The Open's website, fans could access a personalised news feed to keep them abreast of the latest developments from across the course in real-time. In addition, fans could select specific players to follow and receive tailored updates for these players throughout the championship through graphics, text notifications, and video highlights.

And this year, we are stepping it up again.

Digital twin environmental modelling, ShotView and the interactive course map

When it comes to our participation at The Open, the fans are always front of mind. Undoubtedly, attending a world-class event such as The Open and feeling the excitement and drama as the championship unfolds in front of you is still the best way to enjoy the sport. Despite this, a golf competition of this size is challenging to watch in person. 156 players spread out over more than 7000 yards of real estate. At the height of the day, there are 18 separate games being played at the same time. No matter how big of a fan you are, you will miss a lot of the action. You can, of course, watch at home, which gives you a fantastic picture of the state of play, but the broadcasters ultimately dictate which groups you follow. Ideally, fans could sit above the course in helicopters zooming in and watching their favourite player's shots while keeping tabs on the entirety of the field. That, in essence, is the experience we are giving fans at The 150th Open Championship.

As the iconic competition once again graces the hallowed grounds of St. Andrews Old Course, golf fans following this year's competition will have access to unprecedented levels of real-time data.

Through precise digital twin environmental modelling, NTT DATA will be presenting an interactive, 1:1 virtual model of the Old Course at St. Andrews and its surroundings. This will enable a full ball positioning, data-led experience. Fans will be able to access a route to hole visualisation with dynamic path capturing every shot, player, hole, and round in real-time. The interactive map will present the entire 18-hole course, and fans will be presented with slick drop-down lists with options to dive into the details of specific holes. For each hole, fans can access interactive ball trajectories, stat summaries both off the tee and on the green, hazard data, and even stories from the history books giving a rounded, unique experience.

Using the same data, we will be creating unique digitally rendered re-creations of every one of the 35,000 shots of the championship, giving professional content teams, blog writers, media and journalists access to automatically created digital assets to help in their story telling.

Fans will also have access to a live blog with up-to-date analysis as well as interactive scoreboards and an interactive course map of any player on the course. Viewers will be able to go to a specific player's scorecard, access their interactive map, and scroll back through completed holes to watch their best shots.

Elevating experiences to the next level

This new data experience from NTT DATA gives fans control over how they enjoy the sport they love. Increased access to real-time statistics, analysis and insights allows them to elevate their viewing in an enhanced immersive experience, whether on the course or at home. Moreover, digital twin technology is not limited to the world of golf. We see Digital Twin technologies improving all aspects of sports, businesses, organisations and societies across the globe.

NTT’s use of the technology at events such as the Tour de France highlights its ability to enhance significantly different fan experiences by combining hyper-precise digital mapping (or modelling) of a real-world 'thing', from aircraft engines to entire cities. These maps, allied with multi-modal sensor gathering of high-fidelity data in real-time, allow for low-cost and risk-free simulations, ‘what-if analysis’ and complex predictions. These, in turn, enable virtual prototypes and innovation cycles measured in hours rather than months and the creation of realistic synthetic data to feed ever more complex machine learning processes and AI algorithms.

The creation of these technologies has already made step-change improvements in manufacturing, healthcare and telecommunications, and is set to transform every aspect of our lives in the future.

The Open will be played from 10-17 July. Be sure to visit or access all the action through the official Open app, and to follow NTT DATA’s social channels to get all the latest developments from the home of golf - Old Course, St Andrews.

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