The Sky is unlocking a new resource to augment their business goals: artificial intelligence.
In connection with the launch of their new app, Sky stepped into the AI game as the third WNBA team, collaborating with GameOn Technology, a company specializing in AI chat.
“A big part of that is focusing on the end user, the fan,” GameOn Technology CEO Alex Beckman told the Sun-Times. “Sky and GameOn both agree that we can take the conversation to them and make a good deal out of it.”
The Aces and Fever were the first WNBA franchises to adopt AI chat when they added the feature to their websites in March. Beckman’s goal is to work with all 12 WNBA franchises by the end of the year.
GameOn and Sky have been working together since January to bring the chat feature to fans this season. It is currently available via Sky’s newly developed app and will be available on the team’s website on Friday and on Facebook Messenger in the future.
In conversational chat, fans can ask questions ranging from “When is Sky’s next game?” to “What are Kahleah Copper’s averages?”
The AI chat responds on the fly with information gathered on the Sky website. This feature gives the team complete brand control over the information provided. The team can also limit which questions the AI chat can answer. For example, if Sky does not post any game highlights, the chat cannot call them up when asked.
“All the information we have is from our client,” Beckman said. “The platform connects to every database that Sky needs to answer these questions.”
For specific questions that chat can’t answer, a generic response is returned, prompting users to select from a list of available resources. For example, if a fan asks, “When did Copper win the Finals MVP?” they won’t get an answer. Instead, they get Copper’s current stats and the ability to follow their player profile.
Beckman said his company is focused on responsibility. If there’s a question that chat can’t answer, the technology will detect it by providing one of those generic answers, rather than fans seeing “AI hallucinations.”
“If the AI doesn’t know the answer, sometimes the AI won’t admit that it doesn’t know the answer,” Beckman said. “It likes to invent an answer.” AI is programmed by humans to think like humans. So if it’s a question to which the answer should be known, but the exact answer isn’t in the dataset, it makes up an answer. “It’s a hallucination.”
The partnership with GameOn is one of several developments Sky is focusing on this off-season. The app, which relaunched on Tuesday, has been retooled in collaboration with the company Raw Engineering over the past six months.
GameOn is also responsible for developing apps for several NBA teams including the Kings and Grizzlies.
”[The updated app] “Should offer better technology and new opportunities in the future, including future loyalty programs,” said Tania Haladner, vice president of integrated marketing at Sky. “But the biggest change will be better design and functionality.”
When fans arrive for Sky’s home opener against the Mystics on Friday, they will see more merchandise including player jerseys. The Sky has partnered with Campus Customs to offer comprehensive options online and in person. Team shop locations will be available on the upper level of the hall and there will be a newly added shop for pitchside ticket holders.