‘We’re creating a video network for all of soccer’: Veo’s goal to take AI tech to the masses

10 January 2020 | Broadcasting & New Media
‘We’re creating a video network for all of soccer’: Veo’s goal to take AI tech to the masses
“The top clubs have everything and the rest have nothing, it’s like the American economy,” quips Henrik Teisbæk as he sits down to talk about Veo’s vision.

Disparity in soccer, and sport in general, is nothing new. Player fees, sponsorship deals and infrastructure expenditure from elite teams continue to dominate the headlines, while clubs further down the pyramid have to watch the pennies. With the commercial chasm growing, there is in an increasing demand for technology to bridge the gap.

As more companies look to push the boundaries with artificial intelligence (AI) video technology, so does the desire for soccer’s giants to utilise it across their operations on and off the pitch. Finding the cutting edge has now become more and more elusive for those not at the top of the table.

Enter Veo. The Copenhagen-based start-up is looking to change the technology tide with its AI camera. It’s USP is clear; record soccer without a cameraman. A simple concept, but one Teisbæk says has a string of possibilities. Mounted on a tripod, the 4K camera follows the action before Veo’s AI platform processes the footage which can then be accessed by teams to leverage accordingly.

To find out more about the technology’s usage and potential in the sport industry, Chief Executive Teisbæk gave his thoughts on Veo’s ambitious mission.

Why is there a need for this sort of technology?

There has been huge investment in technology and video. All the Premier League clubs are spending millions of pounds on video analysis cameras, statistics and so on. There’s no doubt video technology can develop better playing talent and there’s a massive commercial focus around professional athletes, broadcasting and so on. However, there’s a huge discrepancy between professionals and the rest of the players in the world. There are no tech companies that are focussing on bringing technology into the youth and amateur part of soccer and sport in general.

We want to be the company that puts technology into all teams and clubs in the world. We want to do that, especially when it comes to video, because we believe video is the core of talent development.

Players can see themselves on video, they understand what they are doing right and wrong, while trainers want to use video to develop talent and give better collaborative feedback. It means we’re able to grow the sport by users sharing all those moments on the field.

We can make the sport bigger and better. It’s a massive opportunity. We saw that no one was recording soccer because you had to have the right setup; a scaffold, a person and a camera, and a lot can’t or don’t want to do that. Our product means you have your very own virtual cameraman.

How would you describe Veo’s mission?

Our mission is to take it [the product] to all of soccer. We’re not purely focussing on elite teams. There is a technological and financial disparity, sport is not equal. We’re trying to build a technology for the masses and enable all teams to use video for talent development, sharing highlights and moments, and more.

We launched the product a year ago and we’re in 1,500 soccer clubs in more than 50 countries and we’ve recorded more than 40,000 matches in 2019 alone. Footage is coming from everywhere, be it on the cliffs of the Faroe Islands to Ghana, Japan and the US.

How have you seen the use of AI technology in sport change over the last few years?

There’s been more of an acceptance that the technology is a key to improving performance and talent development. Analytics and video is becoming more of a central part for teams. There’s no doubt data, statistics and AI are there for a reason. So far, we’ve only seen it through the richest professional clubs, it hasn’t reached the masses. I think more and more companies will focus on the youth and amateur parts of the game.

Do you expect this sort of technology to become a staple in soccer?

Yes, we are automating video production but there is also a future where AI can be used to assist coaches by telling them about how the team can be setup better, giving them statistics around the players. Our technology is seeing far more matches than a coach ever can see so we can come with recommendations and how to improve training for players.

We’ve also seen how it can benefit scouting. That’s a massive part of soccer, but it’s a subjective and not very data-based industry. If you’re Manchester United and want to scout a player in a remote country, you have to send a scout there sometimes for only one match and they have to make a decision based off that.

However, by using our technology, scouts can watch talent from across the world on a computer screen because they can access players across a whole season. Players in remote countries now have a better chance of playing for a bigger team. It’s all fuelled by the video content we’re generating.

We’re creating a video network for all of soccer. It’ll also let clubs activate their sponsors better because there’s a medium where they can have more exposure. There are a ton of opportunities enabled by the technology.

Are you planning to branch out into other sports?

We’re certainly looking to grow into more sports in 2020. Right now, we’re analysing which ones to target. There are some technical aspects we need to consider but the goal is certainly by the end of 2020 to be involved in other sports.

How do you plan to develop Veo’s product?

We’ve aimed to build a camera that is affordable and portable so it can reach as many teams as possible around the globe. That’s our mission because video enables so many other services. The technology is driving us in the sense that the better the bandwidth gets, particularly in rural areas, the faster the content can get on the cloud, the faster we can live stream and the faster we can do processing.

The development of technology, including processing and battery power, will drive our camera and AI technology forward. Even more accessible and detailed video analysis will come. Technology can make sport bigger and better.

 

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