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Microsoft’s machine learning can predict injuries in sports

Its new analytics platform also helps teams track, improve player behavior.
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Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Microsoft is bringing its big-data knowledge to sports. Today, the company introduced its new Sports Performance Platform, an analytics system that aims to help teams track, improve and predict their players performance using machine learning and Surface technology. Created by Microsoft Garage, the group responsible for the tech giant's offbeat innovations, the project is designed to make coaches better understand player data and find ways to turn that into actionable insights. Microsoft's Sports Performance Platform can, for example, figure out when a player is at risk of injury, based on his or her most recent performance and recovery time.

The company says one of the main benefits to its sports analytics tool is that it's powered by proprietary business tools such as Power BI, a cloud-based intelligence suite also used on products like Excel, as well as Azure and, of course, Surface computers. "Imagine making clutch decisions that are based on insight, rather than gut," said Jeff Hansen, general manager of Microsoft Brand Studio. "The difference between a win or a loss can be decided by an extra five minutes of wind sprints, levels of hydration or getting to bed 30 minutes earlier the night before."

Professional teams such as the Seattle Reign FC (US, National Women's Soccer League) and Real Sociedad (Spain, La Liga) are already taking advantage of the Sports Performance Platform. But Microsoft says its goal is to expand beyond the pros and bring these tools to other levels, which could benefit school programs and amateur coaches and players.

While Microsoft is calling the platform an experiment right now, it is seeking "sports organizations and partners" that may be interested in being involved as it's developed. Let's just hope everyone who uses it doesn't feel the same way NFL players and coaches do about the Surface on the sidelines.

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