Great basketball players aren’t just powerful athletes: they also have a “sense” of the entire court and the ability to make split-second decisions, which many people assume are innate. But a company in Netanya, Israel, called Applied Cognitive Engineering (ACE) believes that these talents can be taught – and to prove it, it has created a video-game-like tool, based on training techniques used by the Israeli Air Force, that helps players learn when to shoot or pass the ball and how to work with teammates.
ACE’s program, called IntelliGym, bears no external resemblance to basketball. The player initially shoots down enemy spacecraft using the keyboard’s arrow keys. Over the span of a dozen or so 40-minute sessions, the tasks get more complicated, challenging the player to confront a variety of enemies with a range of weapons. That may sound like standard video-game fare, but there’s a carefully planned strategy underneath: each level is designed to exercise specific skills used in basketball, such as predicting an opponent’s trajectory, deciding when to shoot at an opponent who keeps changing direction, and working with other team members to defeat a number of opponents. Reports of player and team performance are automatically generated for review by coaches.
Daniel Gopher, a professor of industrial engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology who introduced a computer-based trainer to the Israeli Air Force more than a decade ago and found that it improved pilots’ skills by up to 30 percent, agreed to help ACE design a new tool aimed at the sports industry, where improved performance can mean big bucks. “We spend so much time in the weight room working on the physical aspect, but this is the one area that is pretty untapped – the cognitive and mental aspects of the game,” says Ed Schilling, assistant coach for the University of Memphis Tigers, one of two NCAA Division I teams that have already signed contracts with ACE.
Forget dating apps: Here’s how the net’s newest matchmakers help you find love
Fed up with apps, people looking for romance are finding inspiration on Twitter, TikTok—and even email newsletters.
How AI could solve supply chain shortages and save Christmas
Just-in-time shipping is dead. Long live supply chains stress-tested with AI digital twins.
These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems
They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.
How AI is reinventing what computers are
Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.