Whether in the stadiums or part of the spectator experience, technology played a big role at the Tokyo Games.
The pandemic may have caused a 12-month delay to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and left athletes to compete in empty arenas, but there is a silver lining: new technologies.
Organisers realised the need to create an enhanced experience for athletes, while bringing excitement and buzz into millions of living rooms across the world.
Perth company Komo was contracted by the Australian Olympic Committee for the Tokyo Olympics.
Komo’s digital engagement hub lets fans vote on the top moments of the day, compete in interactive trivia and upload user-generated content.
The hub is accessible on the Team Australia website.
Founder Joel Steel says it’s a fun and engaging way for people to get involved in the action, while also giving sponsors a way to connect with the public.
AI athlete scouting
SportMatch from Adelaide is also joining the party, feeding up to 10 fitness and eight anthropometric variables into their proprietary algorithms to determine the potential success of young athletes.
The profiling and talent ID startup is testing the athletic ability of Aussie kids, with a view to seeing them participate in future Olympic Games.
3D athlete tracking
Intel and Alibaba have released 3D Athlete Tracking (3DAT) that uses AI, a 3D mesh, and biomechanical data to provide a real-time analysis during the games.
The data captured not only helps coaches and athletes to optimise performance, but it also gives viewers an insightful look into things such as the skeletal structure of the athlete, their speed, strength and more.
The technology is powered by Alibaba’s cloud computing and Intel’s hardware and deep learning algorithms.
It can capture and illustrate statistics such as when a runner hits their top speed and visualise this in a colourcoded display.
Using contactless vital sensing technology and cameras used near athletes, Panasonic is using biometric data to provide a sense of what the athlete is really going through at that exact moment: you can see how fast their heart is beating and when their adrenaline is spiking, through very subtle changes in the colour of their skin generated by the contraction of blood vessels.
There’s a robot for everything at this year’s Olympic Games, thanks to the Tokyo Robot Project.
They have ‘eyes’ and can respond to human interaction using cameras.
With no spectators at the games, they are now reserved just for athletes.
Using facial recognition and AI for quick identification, it allows ease of movement throughout the sporting venues such as the main stadium and Olympic Village.
The technology is in use at more than 40 locations, so that 300,000 accredited athletes, staff, media, and volunteers can be quickly verified and admitted.
True VR was first used at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Intel’s new and improved version has been released for the 2020 games.
True VR gives an immersive experience of all events.
It uses stereoscopic camera pods to provide natural views of all the action.
You’ll see realistic depth and proportions whichever way you look.
It’s accessible on VR headsets, mobile devices, tablets, and PCs.
Toyota Motor Corp is the official sponsor of the Olympics, so it’s not surprising to see impressive vehicle technology brought to the games.
e-Palettes are driverless vehicles powered by rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs, each with a range of around 150 kilometres.
Controlled remotely from a control centre, each e-Palette can transport up to 20 passengers, or four people using wheelchairs.
Toyota also implemented AI, self-driving Field Support Robots (FSR) that can retrieve items like a javelin from the field using cameras and sensors.
There was also the intention of using Human Support Robots (HSR) and Delivery Support Robots (DSR) to guide spectators through arenas or deliver merchandise and snacks to people’s seats.
It’s often the case that, in the wake of disaster, innovation flourishes.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is using big technological enhancements to bring virtual spectators closer to the stadium than ever before.
• Chloe Constantinides is a consultant, adviser, and founder of multiple startups. She works in marketing, technology, and strategy. A 2018 40under40 winner, she also featured on SmartCompany’s 2018 Smart 30 Under 30 list