Roller Olympics
February 15, 2018

The Innovative Technology of the 2018 Winter Olympics

Written By Miles Hopkins
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As the Winter of Sport has finally arrived, the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics are dominating news headlines this week. Working to beat the high standard of previous years, these games in particular have a lot of expectations – not just in the skills of their competitions, but in their showcase of some of the most exciting and innovations evolutions in digital technology. As 2017 introduced the world to high end home gadgets and revolutionary shifts in the worlds of travel and leisure, it’s time for 2018 to step and compete, as we explore the innovative technology of this year’s Winter Olympics.  

Robotic Introductions

Roller OlympicsWith South Korea being home to several huge electronics companies, many are using the games to showcase their latest Robotics and AI technology. One very visible example of this were the welcoming robots provided by LG that were placed in the main airport for the region. The robot was designed to be able to help their foreign competitors and guests navigate around the airport and provide information on flights in Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese – the four most popular languages spoken at the airport, in order to provide assistance verbally.

One other appearance of robots at the games was in a competition to develop a robot skier. 8 teams from universities and companies competed to create a robot that could complete a slalom course entirely autonomously using computer vision and motors and joints to appear humanlike.

Both of these uses are innovative, with the airport guide making huge steps in human interaction and natural language processing, whereas the robotic skiers are relying on new advances in how computers can see and process the information around them. This will probably only shorten the time before robots and computers can perform more tasks in the everyday world.

Where’s my super suit?

Both the summer and winter Olympic games always drive forward the gear and equipment used in the multiple events. One event that has seen huge jumps in the past few Olympics is the Long Track Speed Skating. Like cycling in the summer Olympics, Speed Skating has adopted the ‘Marginal Gains’ psychology, with multiple very small innovations that add up to a large advantage overall. One of the pieces of gear that the Dutch team have brought to the games is a smart lycra skating suit that has been provided by Samsung.

The suit has several sensors inside it that track the skater’s body position (which is one of the most important factors in the sport), and show real time data to the coach through an app on their phone. The coach can then let the rider know to adjust their position through a vibrating watch. If successful, this technology could be implemented in more sports to increase athlete performance even more. The suit apparently works so well that the athletes have been banned from wearing them while competing in the games. The Dutch team will be hoping this equipment will help then continue their domination of the sport.

Shifts Towards 5g

Since 4G wireless internet has become mainstream over the past 5 years in the UK, Intel and other companies have been working on the next generation of mobile data 5G. 5G promises speeds of up to 100Mb/s for regular users, and Intel is using the massive media attention on the games to push their implementation of the standard. They will be using it to provide high speed, low latency video and immersive content to both spectators and broadcasters. These games will provide an interesting look as what 5G could bring when it is implemented on UK networks in a few years.

A New Take On The Viewing Experience

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While 4K television and movies have become more common in the last few years, the Pyeongchang Olympics will be one of the world’s first major sporting events to get both 4K and HDR support. While 4K will increase the definition of the pictures transmitted, HDR, or High Dynamic Range, captures more of the colour spectrum with brighter whites and deeper blacks. For users with compatible TVs and devices, this will greatly improve the viewing experience, and hopefully in the future, this technology will filter down to more devices and be implemented in even more events.

This year, more than ever before, technology has played a vital role in the growth and adaption of the Winter Games. Already revealing shifts in the landscape of sport and technology hybridity, this showcase of digital adoption is already setting a precedent for the exciting changes to sport in future games to come.