Deloitte and the LTA, the national governing body for tennis in Great Britain, have launched tennis stars Judy Murray OBE and Marni Banks as augmented reality (AR) avatars, as part of a campaign to ‘open up’ tennis and attract a new generation of players to the game.
The avatars, created by 3D designers from Deloitte Digital, appear hovering over the tube of tennis balls when a QR-style code is activated via a smartphone and deliver bespoke messages depending on the recipient.
The tubes were first shared with students from Deloitte’s 5 Million Future partner schools attending an introduction to tennis skills day at the LTA National Tennis Centre. On arrival, the students received a tube of tennis balls which, when scanned, created an avatar of Judy Murray who invited them to the cinch Championships at the Queen’s Club.
Deloitte is sending 500 tennis ball tubes – and 2000 tennis balls – to LTA coaches, venue volunteers as well as its wider client network. The avatars share different messages to recipient groups, for instance LTA coaches and venue volunteers receive ‘thank you’ messages from Judy and Marni, while others will receive information on how Deloitte is using technology to reach new fans and players.
Chris Pollard, LTA Director of Major Events and Digital said, said: “Our vision is of tennis opened up – and we want to grow the game by encouraging more people to enjoy the sport, as well as the physical and social benefits that come with Item. We’ve launched a number of new digital platforms with Deloitte over the past two-years, creating new and novel ways to interact with players, fans and coaches of all ages and abilities. This type of new experience, delivered through new and innovative technologies, is a great way of exciting people about getting out on courts.”
Mark Lillie, global technology strategy and transformation leader at Deloitte, said: “There’s no warmer welcome onto Britain’s tennis courts than receiving a personal invitation from Judy Murray. Delivering this through AR, using a humble tube of tennis balls that could be shared in homes, schools, tennis courts and club houses around the country, seemed the perfect fit. We’ve found that the experience has both surprised and delighted people, creating a more personal experience than a written letter or recorded video message would have done. It’s given us a raft of new ideas for how we may be able to use AR in this way in the future, for instance by adding QR-generated AR experiences to tennis balls and rackets, with training tips from Britain’s top tennis players.”
The LTA has been collaborating with Deloitte for two-years, focusing on launching new digital initiatives which support the LTA’s vision of ‘Tennis Opened Up’, encouraging anyone of any age, background, or level of fitness to pick-up a racket, with the aim of growing participation and attracting a new generation of tennis fans.
So far this has included redesigning the governing body’s website to improve engagement and digital inclusivity and launching the Advantage Player Portal, which helps players find people of a similar playing standard in their local area and to organize their bookings, matches, and rankings all in one place, as well as gaining access to personalized content.
Volunteers from across Deloitte’s UK firm are offering mentoring to the 6,000 coaches and 2,000 venues across the LTA’s network, helping to improve business and digital skills for the long-term.
Deloitte has also worked with the LTA to produce a new docuseries, Tennis Opened Up, which turns the camera towards the individuals who have benefited from the digital initiatives, or are playing a role in transforming the sport. This includes interviews with Rosie, who rediscovered tennis as an adult thanks to a partially sighted tennis group and Naeem, a coach who’s helping to bring tennis into previously under-represented communities.
Speaking on Deloitte’s latest Green Room podcast episode, Judy Murray OBE, said: “Bringing people into a central place where you’re bound by a shared love of sport is incredibly important within the community. We all know that, even more than ever since being locked down in the pandemic, for our health and our well-being the life lessons that you can learn from being part of a sport are second to none. Tennis is competing with so many other things for kids, teens and adults attention that we have to make it fun, we have to make it doable, we have to make it accessible, and we have to make it affordable, and I think we have to learn how to use technology to our best advantage.”
Tim Bridge, head of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, concluded: “Sports leagues and clubs around the world are investing large sums in digital platforms and tools that engage fans in new, exciting ways. However, few organizations are looking into how digital transformation could open gateways for new players and coaches. The impact of these kind of digital transformation projects could supersede financial returns, by improving the mental and physical health of communities around the country, not to mention creating world-class British athletes.”
Notes to Editors
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