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5 amazing tech innovations at the Winter Olympics

PyeongChang 2018 is the most technologically advanced Olympics ever.

With the official slogan of “Passion.Connected.” and a home country known for being one of the biggest producers of technology products in the world, fans, sportscasters and athletes alike are gearing up for what promises to be the most technologically advanced Olympic Games in history.

The 23rd Olympic Winter Games, which kick off on February 9th in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will seek to utilize some of the technologies that have arrived since the last Olympic Games, while showcasing a few for the first time ever.

Here are five tech innovations to keep an eye out for at the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics.

1. Experience the sensations via mobile connectivity

5G Olympic Games

For South Korea, hosting the Winter Olympic Games is an opportunity to showcase itself as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world. To that end, the government has arranged to roll out the world’s first 5G network right in Olympic Park.

Olympic Games bobsled

“5G technology is very fast, 20 times faster than what currently exists,” Oh Sang-Jin, Director General of the South Korean Technology Bureau, told Euronews.

“The images are very sharp. For example, the bobsleigh athletes move down the track very fast and with 5G, the public is able to share their experience, the sound, the feelings through video.”

     Related: HUBO the humanoid robot carries the Olympic torch           

2. Be guided to your seat with an AR-enabled mobile app

This high-speed connection also provides the opportunity to showcase some of the latest in augmented reality directly within the Games’ official app.

mobile guided app Olympics

Users on the ground during the Olympics will be guided, both indoor and outdoor, via an augmented reality path using their smartphone cameras. Not only can this augmented reality application help direct fans from venue to venue, but it can also direct them to their exact seat.

3. More real-time athlete data available to viewers

With the arrival of wearable technologies, viewers can expect unprecedented insights into how their athletes are performing on a much deeper level. While each sport’s oversight body will have to determine the degree to which this technology is used, Eurosports’ CEO Peter Hutton revealed some clues to Reuters last year about what might be possible.

“We’ve seen tests of patches which show not only heart rate and positioning of athletes, but can also show how tired an athlete is, or how much power they are using,” he said.

“These patches feed data direct to viewers, or to commentators which can make sport more understandable… more dramatic.”

4. “Ghost” competitors

Perhaps the most compelling new technology broadcasters are racing to have in place for the Olympics are digital graphics of leading athletes’ performances to overlay alongside the current competitor.

For example, viewers may be able to watch an individual skier race alongside a digital graphic of the competition’s current leader. Known as a “ghost skier,” Hutton says broadcasters will be looking to have this technology ready in time for the games as well.

“It instantly puts the performance in context,” he said, adding that participation would have to be voluntary.

     Related: Tap to pay with your winter gloves at the Olympics       

5. Virtual reality broadcasting

In early January, Intel announced a strategic partnership with the Olympic Broadcast Services to capture 30 Olympic events in virtual reality, both live and on-demand. While VR content did debut in Rio in 2016, it was only used for the opening ceremonies, 24 hours after they had already aired.

virtual reality Intel

This year, however, Intel is stressing that VR headset users will be able to access three to six camera locations per event in real time, as well as on-demand highlights, real-time stats and leaderboards, and exclusive behind-the-scenes content.

You can also expect Intel to utilize drone technology for both displaying and recording VR entertainment.

“Drones are excellent for light shows, filming at different angles and moving something light from point A to point B,” Intel’s Chief Strategy Officer, Aicha Evans, told CNN Tech.


Can the world keep up with tech?

Jared Lindzon

Jared Lindzon is a freelance journalist based in Toronto, covering a variety of topics, including technology, careers, entrepreneurship, politics and music. His work regularly appears in major publications in Canada, the United States and around the world, including the Globe and Mail, Fast Company, Fortune Magazine, Rolling Stone, Politico, the Guardian and more.

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