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ATP Tour World Championship

November 28, 1998

Hans Huber

Dr. Yves Jean

Patrick McEnroe

Mark Miles

Gopal Pingali

Peter De Tagyos


HARALD KETTENBACH: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to Lucent and ATP Tour's launch of LucentVision, the first real-time visual information system for sports broadcasting. Some of you may have noticed that there is something different compared to the years before in particular when you watch events on ZDF or Eurosport, ESPN, whatever other channels we have that are covering the World Championship here in Hannover. You might eventually also have wondered what this little logo, Lucent Bell Labs, stands for. We're here today to explain what LucentVision is. We'll try to make this a bilingual press conference, since I assume we'll have certain German- and English-speaking reporters in the audience. I'll switch back and forth between German and English. Let me introduce quickly the speakers by running order: Mark Miles, Peter De Tagyos, then we have Patrick McEnroe to commentate on the brief video that we have prepared for you. Then Hans Huber of Lucent Germany will basically tell you what this means for Lucent in Germany and in Europe. Obviously, we're very honored to have the creators of this new technology here with us. I am very pleased to introduce Dr. Gopal Pingali and Dr. Yves Jean. Now, Mark, will you go ahead.

MARK MILES: Thank you. I'm not sure if I'm properly miked, but hopefully I'll be able to project. Good morning, and thank you for being with us. I hope you all didn't work too late last night or play too hard because we hope you're awake. It's our view that this morning's announcement for those of us that are here is going to be memorable, especially as the years go forward and we look back on this morning. There is that chance that ten years from now, those of us in this room will think back on the announcement of this relationship this morning in terms of its significance for tennis, particularly tennis on television, much like some of us think of the invention of the telephone for communications today. It has potentially profound impact on our sport. We are here to announce that Lucent Technologies, a company of enormous historical accomplishment and value in the marketplace today, and human scientific potential that's impossible at least for me to describe, has agreed to become the official technology partner of the ATP Tour. For some time, the Tour has been determined to do whatever we can do to find ways to improve upon, to enhance, the television viewer's appreciation for tennis. I think to most of us, despite the excellent work of the commentators on television in our sport, it's been clear that the power, the athleticism, the beauty, the mano-a-mano nature of our competition that you feel in the hall in that front row seat does not always perfectly come across to the viewer of television at home. We believe that that's something that can be addressed, it's something that can be done. Two years ago Lucent Technologies took that challenge to their pool of 24,000 worldwide, and already we have results, which are showing up on this week's coverage of the World Championships on ZDF, Eurosport, ESPN and international television worldwide. With Lucent Technologies, we could not have found a better technology partner. This is a 128-year-old company that continues to represent the cutting edge. This is the company that brought us the telephone, the first digital computer, the transistor, the first projector that made talkies possible. I'm sure John Parsons might remember. You'll have to fill me in on that in a little bit. But more importantly, in today's context, this is the company that's brought us the Telestar Communications Satellite, HD-TV, and the world's first all-plastic transistor. This is the company that stands for innovation and quality. We are proud that they saw men's professional tennis and a relationship with the ATP Tour as the best sport to showcase publicly the potential and their applications which can be developed which will have impact on our sport, particularly the way we convey ourselves to fans. We could not be more excited about this relationship. I think you'll see how tangible the results are already. When you know more about the company, I believe you'll see why I said at the beginning that we may very well look back on this relationship years from now as a threshold breakthrough day for our sport. Thank you.

HARALD KETTENBACH: Thanks, very much, Mark.

PETER DE TAGYOS: Let me just apologize, I lost my voice completely two days ago, and my wife isn't even here to enjoy it. I apologize if I don't come across well. About two years ago, we set up a tennis court in the middle of the cafeteria at Lucent Bell Labs headquarters in New Jersey, just to make our friends from the ATP feel a little bit more at home. Among the folks that were there that day were J. Wayne Richmond from the ATP Tour; Dennis Denninger from ESPN; Ivan Blumberg from ProServ/Marqee Group; and representing commentators and players, we were fortunate enough to have Patrick McEnroe and Brian Gottfried with us. Lucent was looking for some unique ways to increase our global brand awareness, and we were also looking for a way to demonstrate our core competency, which we believe is innovation. We thought that the ATP Tour was the ideal partner, so we invited them to bring to our scientific community what they felt was the most significant challenge that the game had in their view that might be impacted by technology. The ATP told us what they were really looking for was in some way to enable fans, as well as even occasional viewers, to be able to better feel the speed and the athleticism of tennis while it's being broadcast. They were also looking for ways to enable the media and commentators to help viewers to better understand and appreciate the game so they might enjoy it more. Well, that was fundamentally the challenge that was laid out to the Bell Lab scientists that were assembled around that tennis court as they watched Patrick and Brian show off some of the speed and some of the beauty of the game. We then, within the next few days, using some of our communications technologies, were able to share that challenge with 24,000 scientists in 20 countries around the world. We asked them for any ideas they may have based on the various areas of research that they were involved in. We received well over a hundred ideas. We put together a blue ribbon panel of scientists from various disciplines and narrowed that down to a handful of projects. This week at the ATP World Singles Championships, you're seeing the first of what we hope to be a series of broadcast enhancements. We call it LucentVision. What it really is, is the first visual information system that's been developed for sports television broadcasts - and this is the difference - that operates in real-time. It allows the commentator to enable the viewer to see the player's court coverage at any point in the match, typically at the end of a set or whatnot, it really illustrates the player's strategy or the shifts in strategy, and it does so very easily and graphically. Because it's a visual database, it can be accessed at any point in the match by the broadcaster, and really allows the commentator, we hope, to bring added life graphically to the analysis that they've been sharing with the viewer. The other interesting thing is that the technology of LucentVision allows us to capture some additional statistical information that's never been available before, things like the distance traveled by a player during a match, their acceleration, their foot speed, and obviously that can conjure some interesting comparisons when we talk about players who have been out on the Tour for a while having lost a step. Once you begin to archive this data, you'll be able to see whether they truly have lost a step or everyone else just got faster. We're hoping to provide the LucentVision maps, and there are some from the video that we're going to show on the back table. If you haven't gotten one, I hope you pick one up. We plan on having these distributed along with the ATP post-match statistics for the members of the media as well as coaches and players. We're going to begin doing that next year with the Mercedes Super 9 tournaments as well as the ATP World Championships in singles and doubles. Because the maps and the other statistics can be archived because they're in data form, there's a possibility that members of the media, commentators, even coaches and players might be able to use these maps for post-match analyses. Frankly, it's even possible that, looking at archival data of past matches, they might even be able to prepare for upcoming matches with some of this data. All of it being in digital form allows us also to very easily download it to the ATP website anytime we want to, including real-time during the tournament. In a minute, you'll see some of the footage that was put together by Jonathan Marks of the ATP Tour that shows some of the LucentVision as it's been used and some footage from the commentator briefing from Tuesday, then we'll hear from Patrick, who has a unique perspective as a player and commentator, and from our point of view almost as importantly as a founding member of this innovation partnership starting two years ago. But before I do that, I wanted to just give you an idea of some of the things that we are planning on introducing over the next few years, obviously as quickly as possible, and it will be done in cooperation with the ATP Tour and broadcasters' input and commentators' input. Some of the innovations that we're considering include virtual replays of points from any position in the stadium, including the perspective of either one of the players, virtual replays that show the ball's trajectory, angle and spin on every single shot. If you think about that, if you're watching a match and someone just has a fabulous kick serve, the kind that loops around, kicks, then takes off in that direction, it's an ace, immediately after that point, we'll be able to have a virtual replay, turn the court around and let the viewer feel and see what it would be like to receive exactly the serve that they just saw. Because so much of this is a digital visual database, one of the things that's terrific is instant retrieval of any clip, any video, any replay can be done instantaneously basically at any time. Because appreciation and feel is based on sight and sound as well as touch - and touch of course we haven't figured out how to involve - but we're also looking at sound with the idea of enhanced acoustics. We're looking at some new directional array microphones that will be locked into the flight of the ball with the idea of having the viewer at home truly hear the ball coming off the racquet just the way a player does. If any of you play, you know what kind of a cue that is. You can hear the spin before you actually see it. Lastly, we're experimenting with the development of a very novel wide-angle type camera that will provide a courtside view of the entire court. We think that this has the possibility for some terrific footage we think of some of the lightning fast exchanges at net, especially during doubles matches. But let me finish up with a couple of thoughts. One is, on behalf of Lucent, we are absolutely delighted to be the global innovation partner of the ATP Tour going forward. I hope you'll forgive me, especially Harald I hope you'll forgive me, and Hans, for using an American slang expression, but please stay tuned because you ain't seen nothin' yet. What I'd like to do now, I'd love to introduce the video that I mentioned earlier that begins with coverage of the commentators' briefing on Tuesday, and ends with some of the LucentVision maps from I believe last night, chronicles the background on this with a few bits by our friends here, I call them the dynamic duo from the labs, Dr. Pingali and Dr. Yves Jean. They're here to answer any technical questions you may have later on. After the video, Patrick will share some of his ideas from all the unique perspectives that only he can bring to this. Thank you. (Video shown.)

HARALD KETTENBACH: Patrick, will you carry on.

PATRICK McENROE: Thank you. I just remember two years ago when I went to Lucent when we did our presentation there, we were surrounded on the court by all these geniuses, I guess we could call them, who were very interested in our game, our sport. Basically what we did was we just brainstormed. We spent an hour, hour and a half, Brian Gottfried and I hitting some balls on this makeshift court, saying, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could do this, if we could do that," just coming up with ideas, which in essence is still what we're doing. We're trying to come up with more ways of creating interest really, giving us as commentators more to talk about, giving you guys in the print media more to write about. I remember I think it was Gopal in there watching us, saying, "Sometimes I sit at home and I make believe I'm playing against the other player, I move around and I think I have to go over here." The fact that these guys were able to actually come up with something to start to show that, and I think we see in this, in what's been developed so far, some of us being tennis experts, it's fairly straightforward, we know they're spending most of the time in this part of the court. But for actually people watching at home, it gives them something visually to see, it gives them a way of feeling like they're a little more a part of the action, and also I found at least in following a lot of sports, the more information people have, the more interest there is in the sport. I think the key from all of this, in talking with Gopal and Yves throughout the week, is that there's so much more that we can do, there's so much more that they can do. To think they've come up with this already in two short years, I think that leaves a lot of room for the future and for where this technology can go. As I said in one of the bits in the video, it's figuring out what the tendencies are of players, what they tend to do at crucial times. Do they pass down the line 75 percent of the time? Do they like to serve in a certain area when they're down breakpoint? All those things in the future I think we'll be able to come up and see firsthand. From my perspective as a player and a commentator, it gives us more to talk about, more information to throw out there to viewers. In my mind, it can really only go forward. I think the reception I've got from everyone at Lucent has been, "There's so much we can do." The more we communicate with each other and exchange ideas, we'll actually be able to see more and more technology, more and more ways of getting people interested in tennis, which really at the end of the day is what this is all about.

HARALD KETTENBACH: Thanks, Patrick. Let's come to the closing remarks from Mr. Hans Huber, then obviously we're very happy to take any questions we might have. Hopefully you won't have to leave this room having any open questions, otherwise my colleague of the ATP Tour, Fran Michelman, and I are happy to try to accommodate any interview requests or questions we might have. Hans Huber.

HANS HUBER: Thank you, very much. I will present my speech in my native language. (Presentation given in German.)

HARALD KETTENBACH: Thank you, very much, Gentlemen. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have.

Q. Could I ask, as far as this technology is concerned, is it going to be something that will be offered to broadcasters worldwide? Will there be a cost to the broadcasters? Are we talking just the Super 9's and the ATP Championships? Could we see this, for example, in Australia with the tournaments that will be there leading up to the Australian Open?

PETER DE TAGYOS: Frankly, we're going to try to begin, as I indicated, with the Mercedes Super 9, singles and doubles, ATP World Championships in '99. As we perfect the system and as we add more enhancements to it, that is one of the things that's being contemplated. Obviously, one of the areas at least in those tournaments through the ATP's world feed, a number of these things will be possible to the broadcasters, as they are this week. We haven't really discussed other non-ATP tournaments at the moment. But I'm sure that the ATP, along with Lucent, will be interested in chatting with appropriate broadcasters as well as tournaments about that.

Q. You indicated that it may not be too long before we can actually watch a serve coming towards us, how much the ball moves. Will that be a moving indicator or a fixed line at the end of it or both?

PETER DE TAGYOS: Actually, and correct me if I'm wrong, if I overstate this, but I'm in charge of nontechnical-ese, and they're in charge of really telling you what it can do, but what I've seen so far in the initial work that they've done, you will actually be able to see the court, you will be able to see the ball move, and they can vary the speeds, but first they can orient you to whatever point of view you would like, then literally the one that I've seen took a kick serve, and you could watch it come, hit and go by. Obviously, for me, because I'm old and I don't see well, they played it very slow. Then when they played it at the real live speed, you really got an appreciation for, "My God, how do they see it, no less hit it?" So it can be both.

Q. At the end of it, there could be a fixed line, could be used photographically?

PETER DE TAGYOS: Absolutely. Absolutely.

HARALD KETTENBACH: If there are no more questions, obviously these gentlemen are still around for a little while. If you wish to join us on a cup of coffee and discuss anything that comes to your mind in more detail, feel free to do so. Otherwise, we wish you a very interesting day at the tournament, and obviously very thrilling games in these semifinals. Thanks, very much, for spending so much time with Lucent Technologies and the ATP Tour. Thank you.

End of FastScripts….

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