John McEnroe is playing tennis against a virtual version of himself on ESPN+

Michelob Ultra and ESPN have determined to make use of AI to answer an everlasting question: what would occur if tennis legend John McEnroe performed against himself? An upcoming ESPN+ particular entitled “McEnroe vs. McEnroe” will function the 63-year-old star, who retired from singles competitors in 1992, playing against a sophisticated, AI-trained version of himself. 

According to TechCrunch, the method for the precise recreation is pretty concerned. After the true McEnroe sends a ball over the web, the AI avatar responds to its path and “swings” — at this level, a new ball is launched from a ball cannon, which is obscured by a smokescreen. The positioning of the ball cannon and smokescreen are designed to make the ball seem as if it is coming off the avatar’s racket. The avatar itself is projected onto a hologram particle display screen. This teaser under reveals off a tantalizingly small quantity of footage.

As for the way this all got here collectively, the true McEnroe spent a day with manufacturing company Unit 9, who used full-body movement seize and scans mixed with Unreal Engine’s MetaHuman Creator technology. Adweek says that the McEnroe avatar and its programming are based mostly on 5 completely different factors in McEnroe’s career, together with his debut in 1979, his ascent to the highest of the game in 1981, and his ultimate year as a professional in 1992.

Besides the work with the true McEnroe, Unit 9 additionally analyzed tons of of hours of footage from his career and recorded 308 completely different pictures for the virtual avatar. Given that McEnroe is now 63, he’ll be playing against a a lot youthful version of himself — whether or not or not which means the AI can have the sting stays to be seen, of course. If this considerably odd matchup has piqued your curiosity, TechCrunch says the particular will air tonight, May seventh, on ESPN+ at 10PM ET. 

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