BT computers calculate football highlights

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The Independent Online

BT has developed a software application that automatically cherry-picks the most exciting parts of a football match. The automated highlights service means UK football lovers no longer need to wait for Match of the Dayto watch games quickly.

BT is launching its television service BT Vision later this year. As a result of the launch, which will pipe television into consumers' homes through its broadband network, BT is investing in technology that can comprehend television content.

The football highlights service selects clips based on the level of motion on the pitch, the number of camera angles and the audio levels in the game. In this way, it can recognise when a goal is scored or a player sent off, based on replays, the excitement of the commentator and close-ups of players and the crowd. Consumers who miss the game or do not want to watch it all can immediately watch the highlights selected by the computer, leaving the Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker in its wake. BT has not yet decided whether to commercialise the service.

In tests against the BBC's online highlights service for England's World Cup matches against Sweden and Ecuador, BT's technology matched the BBC on every major incident.

David Chatting, a BT researcher, said: "It doesn't understand the offside rule but it is very accurate. It is a kind of heartbeat of the match, producing a graph of how 'interesting' each moment is."

He said technology that can understand visual content has a number of uses. Another example is automatically searching customers' home movies for the best-quality pieces of footage.

Separately, BT's futurologist Ian Pearson said artificial intelligence was likely to create a new "Women's Economy" which, over the next 10 to 15 years, was likely to cause male-dominated industries that require muscle power to disappear. He said women's strong interpersonal skills will mean they are better equipped to succeed in the workplace of the future and may be better suited to leadership roles.

"The Women's Economy will mean technology can replace the elements women lack - they can drive a JCB without having to be as strong as Arnold Schwarzenegger and will see similar automation of intellect," he said. "But social and emotional skills normally associated with women are harder to automate - as a man, I'm worried about this!"

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