Basketball fans who will watch the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 in Manila will have a chance to interact with a new kind of host: Pearl, the country’s first “Digital Human”.
Pearl is a conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) Avatar powered by Digital Human technology, developed by NTT DATA, a global IT services provider. She will be stationed at special kiosks at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and the Mall of Asia Arena, where the FIBA tournament will run from August 25 to September 10.
Pearl can converse with sports fans in English and Filipino and answer their FIBA-related questions, such as how to get to their seats or where to get their snacks. She can also give people other useful information, such as recommended activities in Manila for tourists.
Pearl speaks with visitors naturally, complete with detailed facial expressions. Fans who want to get updates on the games can simply ask Pearl, who can then tell them the latest game results, statistics, leaderboards, and upcoming matches.
Pearl is the latest in Digital Human technology, which combines speech recognition, machine learning, natural language processing, and conversational AI to connect with people. She is a first in Asia and one of the few in the world.
Digital Human technology is part of the Smart Solutions that NTT DATA and its partners NTT Ltd. and NTT DATA Business Solutions have been advocating for sports. These Smart Solutions use creative communications and the latest advances in Internet of Things (IoT) technology and AI to create a unique experience for sports fans.
The NTT Group has introduced Smart Solutions through various sporting events such as the Tour de France, IndyCar Series, and Major League Baseball.
In collaboration with PLDT, Smart Communications, MediaQuest Holdings, Cignal TV, and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), the NTT Group has brought Smart Solutions to the Philippines just in time for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.
“The NTT Group has been advocating Smart Solutions for sports for some time now, and we are happy to introduce it to the Philippines at this global event. We look forward to more collaborations with the PLDT Group and the Mediaquest Group as we develop more innovations,” said Noriyuki Kaya, NTT DATA Executive Vice President.
“We are thrilled at the chance to bring these next-generation technologies to Filipino basketball fans as we adapt more innovative and customer-centric digital solutions. We will learn from the interactions that the fans will have with Pearl, and we will continue to improve the live stadium experience for future events,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT and Smart Communications President and CEO, who also serves as SBP President.
“Aside from helping sports fans enjoy the FIBA games, Pearl gives them something more – a taste of the emerging digital future today. That’s why we are quite keen on bringing Smart Solutions to Philippine sports. This will bring the fan experience to new, higher levels,” said Jane J. Basas, President and CEO of Mediaquest and Cignal.
The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, featuring 32 national teams from across six continents. The Philippines is one of the three host countries, along with Japan and Indonesia.
Image Caption: L-R: Al Panlilio, PLDT CEO; Kaz Nishihata, NTT Data CEO; and Jane Basas, MediaQuest CEO