Betting brand Oddset and Perfect Fools created a digital clone of Rikard Grönborg to broadcast live from the Ice Hockey World Championship 24/7
Sweden's national coach Rikard Grönborg will, as the first ice hockey head coach ever, be transformed into a virtual sports anchor during the Ice Hockey World Championship in Bratislava and report live throughout the tournament. In the show ‘Grönborg Live’ he will report around the clock during the whole tournament. There will be news, interviews, entertainment and lots of unique statistics from this year's tournament, as well as previous championships. Rikard Grönborg will, as the world’s first virtual sports anchor, begin his marathon broadcast on May 10th and stay on until Sunday, May 26th, when the final is played.
With the help of advanced 3D and voice technology, the Swedish hockey team’s main sponsor Svenska Spel, has developed a virtual copy of the head coach Rikard Grönborg. The virtual sports anchor, who looks and sounds like the real Rikard, will be the first of its kind in the world and, with the help of artificial intelligence, report a total of 408 hours during the tournament. “Grönborg Live” will be broadcast on YouTube as a single long marathon broadcast, without a break, throughout the tournament.
Eva Evesjö, brand manager for Oddset at Svenska Spel Sport & Casino, said: “It’s amazing to be able to offer hockey fans all over the world all they didn't know they needed to know about the World Championship. To do this together with the Swedish team and Rikard Grönborg in their hunt for a third consecutive gold medal makes it even better. We hope to offer something new and unique that will make this championship extra memorable.”
To help the virtual copy mimic the real Rikard Grönborg as much as possible, the Swedish head coach needed to spend several hours in front of the camera. But it has been worth it.
Rikard Grönborg (the real one) said: “The support from our Swedish fans during the World Championship is invaluable and something that I and the whole team are extremely grateful for. Me myself will be busy coaching the team during the World Championship but together with Oddset and Svenska Spel, we will give the fans some great ice hockey talk. Svenska Spel is an important partner to the team, and it’s been fun making this happen together with them.”
‘Grönborg Live’ is the first time a Swedish virtual news anchor sees the light of day. Last winter, China's state news agency launched the world's first virtual news anchor, but this is the first time a virtual anchor dedicated to only reporting sports news has been introduced to the world. The digital clone of Rikard Grönborg thus becomes Sweden's first virtual news anchor and the world's first virtual sports anchor.
Eva adds: “This is a new chapter in TV history. ‘Grönborg Live’ is a unique experiment in an exciting area where nobody really knows what will happen in the future. Maybe we'll see more virtual anchors after this? Regardless, everyone will remember that Rikard Grönborg not only was Sweden's first virtual news anchor, but the world’s first virtual sports anchor.”
Artificial intelligence predicts the World Championship gold
Many hours have been spent developing the virtual version of Rikard Grönborg. Using advanced technology, the head coach’s look, motion patterns and voice have been analyzed to create a virtual copy that sounds, looks, and moves like the original. Before the World Championship tournament, the virtual news anchor was fed with 20 years of hockey data.
The anchor uses artificial intelligence to not only analyze the data, but also to update and optimise its own method to predict the results of the matches. During the course of the tournament, the artificial intelligence will therefore use the results in the matches to learn and become better at drawing conclusions and making predictions. According to AI's analysis, Canada will win the World Championship gold, beating Sweden in the final game. Switzerland will receive the bronze medal after a win against Finland.
Rikard comments: “We’re still going for the gold. Even though the AI has analyzed 20 years of ice hockey data to make its prediction, it all still comes down to how we perform on the ice. Me and the team will do everything we can to prove the AI wrong.”