Friday, February 16, 2018

The 2018 Winter Olympics is Winning Gold in Tech Integration

With more than 27.8 million worldwide viewers, the Olympics continues to be one of most exciting events on television. And while we’re glued to our televisions to watch the action unfold, a second screen is typically on-hand…our smartphones. I, for one, have been watching the streaming events unfold online while simultaneously tweeting out my support for Team USA athletes, like snowboarding rockstar Chloe Kim. Sporting arenas around the world are starting to make use of that second screen to enhance the fan experience, and the 23rd Winter Olympic Games are no exception. America is winning medals left and right in South Korea, but the Olympic Committee’s use of technology has won gold across the board. Check out the action-packed ways they’re integrating new technology to keep fans on their feet, even from across the world:

First Look at 5G
Intel stated claims that their 5G rollout during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is the “largest 5G deployment ever”. As the mobile service industry moves closer and closer towards a 5G-integrated world, this is a great opportunity for Intel and other providers to see how the system works, especially in extremely cold temperatures. Mobile providers will watch patiently to see the security and reliability of the 5G network before the technology takes over the current 4G and LTE networks we frequent. Intel is allowing spectators get a fragment of the action over 5G from the interactive “time-sliced” views of special events. There will be over thirty different camera angles from each of the cameras placed around the arena so that 360-degree views of each turn and lift are captured and able to be relived by fans everywhere. Fans of the figure skating trials sitting in the Gangneung Ice Arena can use tablets provided by the organizers to see panoramic views of a skater, with an AR-layered section describing the athletes’ current stats, like their blood pressure, heart rate, and speed. It’s an interactive spectating experience like never before!

Drones…Everywhere
The Opening Ceremonies are some of the most highly watched parts of the Olympic Games and always prove to be a fan favorite. Much like Lady Gaga’s drone show in last year’s Super Bowl, the organizers in Pyeongchang utilized drone technology to light up the crowds in person and over the televised coverage. Intel powered the 1,200 drones with their Shooting Star technology, which allowed them to control the movements of the drones separately to come together in beautiful light displays. This year’s display included the iconic Olympic rings, a lifelike snowboarder (no, really), and a white dove opening its wings–a Korean symbol for peace. Drones are also being used for security by the South Korean government, which has developed a net system to shut down any wayward drones flying over the Olympic grounds without permission.

Down the Mountain through VR
NBC released its NBC Sports VR app that allows anyone to experience the thrill of skiing down a mountain at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, or pulling off a triple axel in the figure skating rink. The VR app features several different events viewers can experience each day, including ice hockey, curling, and snowboarding. The app connects with your smartphone to feature high-quality live streaming video taken from cameras placed strategically around the arenas, putting you right in the middle of the action as it happens. You can start and stop figure skaters mid-triple axel and change the angle of the camera to see their exact hand movements or landing. You can order a cheap cardboard viewer online or use one of the more costly VR-dedicated headsets. Either way you see it, the footage is so exhilarating that you won’t want to take the headset off!

While the Olympics are beginning to echo a Black Mirror-esque integration of technology, fans everywhere appreciate being able to see exclusive footage of the athletes like never before. Winter sports enthusiasts in Pyeongchang can enjoy the speed of the 5G networks and watch the awe-inspiring drone light shows, and the once-every-two-years Olympics fans can have crazy-cool at home VR experiences that draw in thousands of views. With all of this excitement, we’ll be breathlessly waiting to see how Tokyo incorporates new technology into the 2020 Summer Olympics.