Tech expert earns MCCY grant with AI project for national cagers
When Ang Chong Lai watches football, he does not root for either team or have a favourite player, he watches the game looking for movement patterns and use of space to discern the coach's tactics.
Taking this approach to the next level, last season the former game developer recorded Singapore Premier League matches using pitch-side cameras before using algorithms and machine learning to study the data.
The trial was aimed at understanding how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to provide coaches with in-game data which can affect matches. For example, opposition movement patterns can offer clues on how to tweak things tactically or players to target - should they routinely get caught out of position.
With Ang's scientific approach to sport, it is no wonder that the 44-year-old founder of technology start-up One Unify's latest project is to develop AI technology for the national basketball team.
The project earned him the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth's Enterprise Innovation and Capability Development Grant. Ang, who created the PlayStation game ArmaGallant: Decks of Destiny, is one of four recipients.
The grant, which totals $3 million, is administered by national sports agency Sport Singapore.
It allows businesses in the sports sector to develop and apply innovative digital solutions.
Ang said the technology he is developing for use by next year or 2022 will be able to predict substitutions based on speed and distance covered by players, so that the coach can plan his strategies based on the combination of players who are likely to be on court at various times.
He added that by tracking movements, he will be able to offer the coach data on whether a player is positioning himself optimally, for example, for open looks.
"We are working towards trying to know the work rate of players - the total distance covered and how fast they run or if they have been walking," explained Ang, who will be meeting with the Basketball Association of Singapore this month.
"So we can tell the coach who is going to burn out because in basketball, you have rolling substitutions.
"The next thing is the movement of the players and how they counter (opposition) movements. We also want to know if our players are positioning themselves in the correct space to make themselves available to receive the pass... There is a math behind movements...
"Eventually, we want to make this low cost enough that we can use it all over Singapore (in various sports) and use the data to help groom athletes from a young age and maximise their potential."