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/Client Story

Play in the Grey

An AI-enabled training tool to help coaches drive performance

An innovative data visualisation and insight generation platform.

  1. 01 Designed and developed a custom training tool
  2. 02Enabled automatic insight generation through AI, as well as manual insight creation
  3. 03Provided data visualization through 3D mapping and computer vision

The Challenge

The All Blacks have earned international renown as New Zealand’s national rugby union team. Their stellar record includes three Rugby World Cup trophies and a 77% winning rate in test match rugby. Rather than resting on their laurels, the All Blacks are constantly finding new ways to improve their performance — including through digital means. They partnered with Roam and an AI solutions provider to create a customised training tool to help sharpen the team’s edge over the competition and provide strategic insights.

The Solution

Rather than starting from scratch, our task was to build on the team’s existing data gathering and analysis efforts. Information was already being collected to help understand and validate decisions made by the team, both in terms of in-game snap decisions and pre-game strategy. But this information needed to be more fully leveraged to support the team’s growing shift from a reliance on qualitative data to quantitative data, and enable smarter decision-making through AI.

To meet this need, we designed and developed a tool that analyses in-game footage and generates insights through data visualisation. The tool processes footage to generate a 3D recreation of the field and the players. It then analyses each player’s position and movement on the field to pinpoint key moments or events that could have strategic value, and uses these moments to generate insights for players and coaches.

We were aware that the tool would be needed prior to the upcoming Rugby World Cup, giving us just over two months to guide the project from conception to delivery. The tight timeline made collaboration more important than ever, and we worked closely with the client and two other third-party vendors to ensure that the tool was ready to be deployed on time.

The design phase included the development of a clean, intuitive UI that makes it easier for users to not only understand the insights automatically generated by the tool, but also generate their own by interacting with the 3D recreations and highlighting key moments. The tool’s UX and UI takes the familiar concept of drawing on a whiteboard to illustrate a strategy and transforms it into an elegant, intelligent digital process. 

The tool’s 3D recreations display movement from every possible angle, including ones not captured by the original footage. This gives users the ability to go beyond the camera lens and review key moments in closer, richer detail. Coaches are able to scrutinise previous matches to not only review their own team’s performance, but also analyse the opposing team — making it easier to identify the opposition’s weaknesses and create a winning strategy.

The Result

The tool enhanced the All Blacks’ training regime in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup, giving coaches and players a new weapon in their strategic arsenal. The tool’s combination of data visualisation, artificial intelligence and insight generation has implications for future use not only in sports, but any situation where the movement of people might need to be analysed and used to glean key insights. From soccer to security to air travel, the tool has a broad range of potential applications.

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