The remarkable results of applied curiosity


The SAS® Global Forum Technology Connection isn’t just an opportunity to show off what SAS has been working on. It’s a chance to meet the people behind SAS® technology, see the results of their relentless curiosity, and understand how the world is transformed by it.

Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Technology Officer Oliver Schabenberger served as the emcee for the fast-paced, high-energy session. In his opening remarks, Schabenberger promised attendees they’d walk away inspired at what is possible through analytics.

One of the people responsible for championing such possibilities is Senior Vice President and Head of R&D Stuart Nisbet. He joined Schabenberger on stage to talk about his career at SAS and some of the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities coming out of R&D – from a SAS® Viya® deep learning toolkit released late last year, to new features coming in SAS Viya this year, to the infusion of AI capabilities across our portfolio.

SciSports: A partnership on the pitch

SciSports Founder and CEO Giels Brouwer wanted to “change the world of football” (that’s soccer for you, Americans) by identifying the quality of every player around the world, so they built a system to track every movement on the pitch in 3D and stream it live.

With SAS, SciSports has been able to scale their solution to every stadium in the world. They’ve developed a deep learning partnership with SAS, and Brouwer said what they’ve built together is, “just something incredible.”

What’s involved with a project of this magnitude? SAS® Event Stream Processing to process video data, live scoring of a deep learning model to track the ball and players, and an in-memory platform to analyze large volumes of data and train deep learning models, or as Schabenberger put it, “a new class of analytics.”

And to show just how the system works, Nisbet and Wouter Roosenburg, SciSports Chief Technology Officer, donned jerseys, took to a mock pitch set up just outside the Bellco Theatre, and kicked the ball around to show how the system tracks the movement.

SAS employees and partners display tech innovations

From making machine learning more explainable, to detecting a life-threatening disease through biomedical image processing, to gamifying the management of the customer journey – these were just a few more of the remarkable results of applied curiosity on display at Tech Connect this year. See these and others using the links below.

Location analysis with SAS® Visual Analytics

Knowing a customer means knowing who they are, where they are and what they need. Falko Schulz, Distinguished Software Developer, showed how to use geospatial capabilities, along with advanced analytics in SAS Visual Analytics, to attract more sports fans to a venue.

Stroke survivor analyzes biomedical image processing in SAS Viya

Peterson and Schabenberger at Tech Connection.

Senior Advanced Analytics R&D Manager Jared Peterson suffered a stroke last year and that experience has had a profound impact on the way he approaches his work at SAS.

Using his own MRI images, he showed how SAS Viya can process the images and how machine learning can be applied to images like his to determine the best course of action or treatment for patients.

Smart, visual SAS® Data Preparation with AI

Data wrangling, merging and cleansing can be time consuming, but SAS Data Preparation can make these jobs more efficient. Senior Software Development Manager Nancy Rausch demonstrated how SAS is applying AI and ML to make data preparation smarter.

Data exploration and decision making with AI

Senior Advanced Analytics R&D Manager Ilknur Kaynar Kabul explained that reinforcement learning optimizes the algorithm so that the sum of all future rewards is maximized.

She demonstrated how reinforcement learning can be applied to a marketing campaign to increase donations for a nonprofit organization.

Apple and SAS make accessibility a priority 

Herringer and Summers at Tech Connection.

Sarah Herrlinger, Director of Global Accessibility at Apple, said the company considers accessibility a basic human right and that it is a core corporate value.

According to Ed Summers, Director of Accessibility and Applied Assistive Technology at SAS, that’s one of the reasons why SAS puts a high priority on Apple platforms as we create new technology that enables people with disabilities to access analytics.

Using his iPhone, Summers demonstrated accessible reporting with SAS Visual Analytics and SAS® Mobile BI.


About Author

Lane Whatley

Sr Communications Specialist

As a Senior Communications Specialist, Lane supports SAS R&D in planning, coordinating, and executing its internal communications objectives. In this role, she writes and edits organizational and R&D-related content for blogs, internal social media platforms and the corporate intranet. Prior to joining SAS, Lane worked at the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University in a communications and outreach capacity.

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