Off-ice events have so far overshadowed on-ice news in the 2021 Western Hockey League season for the Victoria Royals.
The Royals’ scheduled games against the Kamloops Blazers on Thursday and tonight against the Kelowna Rockets have been postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak affecting four Rockets players and three employees.
Team activities for the Rockets have been suspended for a minimum of 14 days through April 14, which means nine games have been postponed for Kelowna.
The game Victoria (0-3) against Kamloops was to be played in Kelowna and was postponed on Thursday morning out of caution. Kamloops were instead ordered to stay home and play Prince George as the Blazers (3-0) beat the Cougars (1-2) 6-1. The Kamloops-Victoria game in Kelowna has been postponed until tonight.
(There are no known deaths of COVID-19 players caused by games in organized sports.)
The world’s first artificial intelligence diagnostic app designed to detect the virus helps keep an eye on the COVID-19 situation in the WHL. Eight WHL teams are part of the process, including the Royals and Rockets. Players are tested once a week using the current PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) method. The new Light AI diagnostic test will be run at the same time as the PCR test to compare the accuracy of Light AI’s innovative new technology.
The Light AI diagnostic test is non-invasive. Players download the Light AI app on their smartphones and follow the instructions that will allow the phone’s camera feature to take a picture of the player’s oral cavity. The image is automatically uploaded to Light AI’s cloud-based server, where an artificial intelligence algorithm analyzes it for signs of COVID-19. The results will be sent back to the players along with instructions in the event of a positive test result.
“The [system] has a high negative predictive value, ”said Peter Whitehead, Founder and CEO of Light AI in Vancouver. “If it’s negative, there’s only a 1.4 percent chance that it’s positive.”
In other words, a negative test is 98.6 percent accurate.
“It’s cool to be a part of it [trial]”Said Royals captain Tarun Fizer.
“It’s the next level. Who knows where technology will take us? “
Whitehead said he made things up since he was a kid in Calgary. The technology was initially intended to identify strep throat, but was switched to COVID-19 after the pandemic broke out. Whitehead explained why he had chosen the WHL as the first setting to test this technology.
“Hockey is the biggest sport in this country and we knew the WHL was opening,” said Whitehead, who added that he loves the NHL’s Canucks but that his hometown of Flames will always have a place in his heart.
His app could move from that tiny WHL springboard that includes the Royals to potentially massive use worldwide.
“There are 4.5 billion smartphones around the world that can do this test, and people around the world could do it cheaply within four seconds of taking the picture,” Whitehead said over the phone.
“We are in the process of applying for an emergency permit in the United States [Then] We would begin the process of launching through Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. What kind of a way would it be to come up with a Canadian idea. “
Whitehead found that the implications for use in sports arenas and stadiums, airports, cinemas, concert halls and restaurants are natural.
“We hope our trial with the WHL confirms this and confirms our confidence in the use of advanced diagnostic technologies that use AI,” he said.
Each of the five WHL BC Division teams would play 24 games in the shortened season that took place in the Kelowna and Kamloops hubs. The Royals gush in a hotel in Kelowna and the Cougars and Vancouver Giants in Kamloops Hotels. The Rockets and Blazers players live with their respective ticket families in Kelowna and Kamloops.
Victoria is expected to play Prince George in Kamloops on Tuesday and the Giants in Kelowna on Wednesday. The league confirmed that these games will take place as planned.
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