IBM launches Wimbledon smartphone application

LONDON (Reuters) - Tennis fans at Wimbledon will be able to keep up with the action using a smartphone application developed by IBM, which it said could transform the way spectators access information at sporting events.

A general view shows Roger Federer of Switzerland playing Taiwan's Lu Yen-hsun on Centre Court at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, June 22, 2009. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

The application, which runs on Google’s Android operating system, superimposes real-time statistics and updates from social networking site Twitter, including comments from players, onto a video feed from a handset’s camera.

“It’s about visualising data in a different way,” said Alan Flack, IBM’s Client Executive for the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), in an interview.

“The trial needs to be fun to improve the experience people have at the tournament.

“By exploring new technologies, we can bring information to life by making it useful, engaging and accessible.”

Rob McCowen, marketing director at the AELTC, said the application could change the way people engage with sporting events.

“These smart applications were designed with tennis fans in mind and add a whole new dimension to the event,” he said in a statement.

The service, called Seer Android, is being trialled on T-Mobile’s G1 mobile phone at the tournament, which started on Monday.

Pointing a G1 phone at a court, for example, would tell the user the court number, details of the current and previous matches and Twitter comments from experts and players, such as Andy Murray and Roger Federer.

IBM, which has been Wimbledon’s IT partner since 1990, has also developed a Twitter aggregator, which combines all Wimbledon-based content into one channel, and a data application for Apple’s iPhone for the tournament.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Simon Jessop