The National Basketball Association has a tough question. How can the NBA profitably increase engagement of its fans in international markets where its games are televised outside of normal viewing hours?
Fortunately for the $8-billion-a-year pro sports giant, three students from Morgan State University (MSU) have an intriguing answer: an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered application designed to make it easy for NBA fans to interact with one another beyond viewing games.
With the N-Gage App, fans who wish to be active and play basketball can link up anytime with local friends wanting to do the same. N-Gage scans your area and identifies basketball courts near you, as well as people who are ‘down to hoop.’ Not feeling like being active? N-Gage makes it easy to challenge friends with open-source-augmented virtual reality games and quizzes.
That was the dream scenario that came to life in early April at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund-NBA “Innovate the Future”business competition, where the MSU team composed of senior Finance major Evan Robertson, senior Electrical Engineering major Victor Oyare Oko and junior Electrical Engineering major Martins Umeh took top honors. Each of Morgan’s winning competitors took home a $10,000 scholarship and NBA and Thurgood Marshall College Fund merchandise from the one-and-a-half-day event, which was created to inspire innovative and entrepreneurial-minded students of publicly supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities to change the world through business and technology. Kofi Nyarko, Ph.D., associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at MSU, was the faculty advisor for Morgan’s students. Teams from Alabama A&M University, Fayetteville State University, Florida A&M University and Grambling State University also participated in the competition by presenting their solutions to one of the event’s three case studies.
The three Morgan champions are all high academic achievers with cumulative grade point averages of 3.7 or higher, but they believe it was their drive to succeed that gave them the edge in the arena. “We were determined to win the competition from the time that we submitted the application,” said Team Leader Robertson, a native of Baltimore, Maryland. “We made plans to meet as a team every week before we even knew if we would be advancing to the next round. We set up team calls with NBA employees, NBA fans who would potentially benefit from our solution, and a number of experienced advisors. Read the full article.