A coach is indispensable to the serious athlete — everyone from Olympians to up-and-coming youth athletes needs experts who can spot the strengths and weaknesses of an athlete’s style and cater to their personal needs. But now AI systems are almost sophisticated enough to do the job just as well as — better in some ways — than the old human experts.

SwissCognitiveHomeCourt , an iPhone app that basketball players can use to track their shots, might be the first of its kind. If the phone’s camera is propped up and aimed at them while they practice, the app will track the position and success rate of each throw. As The Wall Street Journal reported, the free app offers users real-time feedback, complete with an automatically-spliced video recording of every single shot the athlete takes so they can check their form. At least, it does for 300 shots per month — more than that, and a user is prompted to pay $8 for a subscription.

There are other apps that coaches and athletes use, of course. Coach’s Eye , for instance, lets athletes review and annotate their footage. But while many of them help athletes film themselves, none use AI to help improve performance. Without an expert there to review the footage, these athletes may not even know what they’re looking for. Credit: Emily Cho HomeCourt isn’t yet as sophisticated as a real-life human coach — right now, the app’s AI gets confused if there’s more than one person on the court. But David Lee , the Co-Founder and CEO of NEX Team, the company behind HomeCourt, is optimistic for how AI will be able to serve athletes in the future.

“In the future, we believe we can provide a platform where coaches and trainers can be actively training and coaching their players through the app from anywhere, anytime,” Lee told Futurism. He added that some athletes are already using HomeCourt to work remotely with their coaches when one of them is on the road. That way, athletes can get feedback from coaches based on what the AI saw during a solo practice session.

HomeCourt’s AI, rudimentary as it might be, represents an important first step. Artificial intelligence and apps — cheap compared to the elite coaches that kids are expected to hire if they want to break into travel leagues or thrive in a highly-competitive sport — could democratize the way that people can train and improve. […]