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IBM Return Serve

During Australian Open 2014, fans were able to harness the power of live data analytics and face a serve from one of the pros battling it out on Rod Laver Arena using IBM ReturnServe. It gave users the chance to try to return a live serve, and then provided stats to help them try again.

It was the most authentic, hands-on way to enjoy the excitement of the Australian Open, either via the ReturnServe virtual reality installations in Sydney and Melbourne, or the ReturnServe website.

How did ReturnServe work?

IBM, in partnership with Tennis Australia, captures real-time data about each and every point of the game sent rocketing down-court on Rod Laver Arena. This data was then used to create a virtual version of each serve just a few moments later – for fans to try to return. After they made their first attempt, it was measured and analysed, so fans could get insights and recommendations to help make their second attempt more successful.

It was a great demonstration of how data has the power to be such a game changer, in sport, in business, and beyond.


ReturnServe Oculus Rift

Virtual Reality during the event

During the event, visitors were able to step into a virtual Rod Laver Arena using the ReturnServe Oculus Rift headset and use a specially-designed motion-sensitive tennis racquet, so they could return a live serve from one of the best tennis players on earth.

After taking a swing they were able to explore the court in 3D virtual reality and gain an understanding of other ways big data is being used to change the game, from sport to business and beyond. Over 10,000 people tried the experience across multiple locations in Melbourne and Sydney.

ReturnServe on your desktop

There was also a desktop version of ReturnServe, enabling fans to try it online with a computer and a broadband internet connection - using their mouse as a virtual tennis racquet.

During the two-week tournament, it enabled over 52,000 fans to see first-hand how data is a game changer from the comfort of their own home or office.

As with, IBM ReturnServe, required robust and scalable hosting platform. SoftLayer - an IBM owned company - enabled the highly customised and specialised hosting environment required by IBM ReturnServe, providing the experiential app with the bandwidth and capability to securely manage dramatic fluctuations in user traffic.

ReturnServe on your desktop
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