VAR Alexa

Alexa Becomes Voice Assistant Referee for UK Premier League Football

Amazon has taught Alexa the rules of Premier League football in tandem with the league showing games on Amazon Prime Video, becoming a Voice Assistant Referee, a reference to the sometimes controversial video assistant referee used to check calls during games. Now, people in the UK can ask the voice assistant for any rule from the International Football Association Board (IFAB) Laws of the Game. The additional knowledge was added after more than 2,000 fans responded to a study by Prime Video by saying they wanted help in grasping the details of how the game works.

Voice Referee

Alexa can now explain a wide range of rules to the game that people may find confusing or that have been updated over time. The fans can ask about the offside and handball rules, what earns different kinds of free kicks and penalty retakes, and even where on the arm touching the ball counts as a handball. In the study that led to the upgrade, two out of three respondents said they don’t fully understand the game’s rules, while 82% said knowing the rules would make the game more enjoyable. A full 85% said they’d like to have instant access to reliable rule information during the games they watch. Prime Video refereeing pundit Mark Clattenburg put his knowledge of the sport’s rules into a form Alexa could digest. He and ex-England striker Peter Crouch tested Alexa ahead on its responses, as can be seen in the video up top.

“By teaming up Alexa with experts in the laws of the beautiful game, we’re giving fans instant assistance on the official rules as they watch Premier League football on Prime Video – by simply using their voice,” Alexa Europe director Eric King said in a statement. “By increasing Alexa’s sporting knowledge, we continue our aim to make customers’ lives easier by keeping them up to speed with the latest information using voice-technology.”

Alexa Sports Fan

Amazon has also filled Alexa with info on the Premier League as the season continues, with game information, league rankings, and live score reports. The voice assistant will even share its favorite team and favorite referee. The new feature also builds on Alexa’s work to expand its overall knowledge of life in the UK, as with the crowdsourcing Alexa Answers feature that came to the country in October.

Alexa has been building up its credentials when it comes to sports for a couple of years. The voice assistant regularly adds information on a growing number of athletic competitions both in the U.S. and abroad. For instance, Alexa can serve as a fantasy football coach thanks to a skillset from sports conversational AI developer StatMuse, offering advice and suggestions for fantasy football players. And Alexa was chosen by Real Madrid to host its first voice skill, and it’s the platform for the official voice skill of New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team. In the U.S., the NBA has set up Alexa Skills for all of its teams, and there are official Alexa Skills from the NFL and NHL, not to mention Amazon’s exclusive rights to broadcast the US Open whenever it returns. Google has its own sports strategy, relying on its search engine to help bring new information to the voice assistant as it did during the ICC Cricket World Cup. Neither is quite at the point of Russian voice assistant Alice in offering betting advice for sports, however.


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