The next Olympic Games are gonna be lit… with technology.
Intel, which became an official Olympic Partner on Wednesday (and makes most of the CPUs inside today’s PCs and all of them on Macs), promises to bring a wide array of cutting-edge technology to the Olympic games, beginning with the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said during a press conference that adding Intel to the membership committee is part of the Olympics’ new reform program and a way to thrust the games into the digital age.
“People are living digital lives,” said Bach. “We have to go where they are in their digital reality, not just watching and following the Olympic games, but being a part of it.”
The tech giant plans to bathe the Olympic village with 5G connectivity that, according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich who spoke at the announcement, “will deliver diverse content to broadcasts” and connect those inside the Olympics games with fans around the world. As proof of concept, Intel lit up its own headquarters in Santa Clara, California, with 5G and transmitted sharp, clear video directly from its campus to the launch event.
Krzanich believes the Olympics are a perfect proving ground for 5G.
“The Olympic games are great examples of connecting millions of fans at home with millions of things at the games,” he said.
Drones will, naturally, also play a significant role at the games where they’ll be used for entertainment and to observe and measure athletic performance.
Sports and drones don’t always mix. In 2015, a drone almost hit a World Cup Skier. However, Yiannis Exarchos, CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services, said IOC broadcast partners have been using drones to broadcast the Olympics since Sochi and Rio and that they have plans to do so again in PyeongChang.
“Safety is the priority,” Exarchos, who added that they will use drones to cover sporting events, “as long as athletes are comfortable.”
Sports fans are already familiar with the Intel drone’s entertainment capabilities. The company’s lightweight Shooting Star drones, which organized themselves into a floating American Flag during Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime performance in Fedruary, almost stole the show.
Intel’s Krzanich said that a single pilot can control 500 of these drones and that each one can reproduce billions of colors. Expect more eye-popping drone light displays at the upcoming games, as well as drone video and data.
The IOC and Intel also plan to transport Olympic spectators to the games and inside the events through virtual reality and 360-degree immersive VR.
Krzanich expects the technology to be used in events such as ski jumping and figure skating. It will give spectators “a prime seat without being there,” said Krzanich.
For now, Intel’s Olympic VR aspirations support Samsung’s Gear VR and other Android-phone-based VR headsets like Google Daydream.
Krzanich said they plan to add at least one tethered VR system (like Oculus and HTC Vive) but “there’s a debate about which is the one with the biggest footprint.”
The IOC’s Bach said the mandate for the IOC is to be as open as can be. “I’m pleased that Intel has a very open approach to platforms. It’s very inclusive as opposed to exclusive.”
Bonus: eSports in Olympic Games?
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