Innovating to make the big ambitions of the Games possible
The 2018 Winter Olympics have arrived, and athletes from all over the world are getting ready to give their all at this year’s games. So how do Olympic athletes train to perform at their peak?
While the actual events are meant to demonstrate pure human effort, tech permeates the Games at every other level. With teams training in virtual reality and competing in gear with built-in biometric monitoring, the Olympics are as much a proving ground for the latest technologies as they are for the athletes.
The 2016 Games in Rio exhibited the value of Near Field Communication (NFC) payment systems. Athletes, coaches and journalists could use their credential wristbands to make quick, easy purchases at thousands of payment terminals within the Olympic Village.
Rio also laid the groundwork for cloud-based hosting of event logistics, using a private cloud environment to coordinate volunteer activities and manage credentials. This year, for the first time, all critical systems at the Winter Olympics will be hosted and managed remotely in the cloud. Olympic hosts are also counting on cutting-edge technology to deliver a data-rich experience. South Korea is demonstrating a 5G mobile network, delivering download speeds peaking at 100 Mbps – nearly 10 times the average 4G network speed.
Even before the athletes arrived in Pyeongchang, they were generating enormous amounts of data. For figure skaters, the University of Delaware developed on-body motion sensors, rendering a skater’s movements into 3-D models. The models were manipulated to perfect techniques in real time. Meanwhile, skiers trained not just on the slopes, but in virtual reality. At a facility in California, downhill competitors could “ski” using 360-degree videos of actual Olympic runs. Analyzing the data from these exercises improved athlete reaction times by up to 20 percent.
For humans, decision-making in any fast-paced, data-laden environment can be daunting. That’s why technologies that feature artificial intelligence (AI) are becoming increasingly important. At Thales, we’re fusing AI advancements with the right security, communications, data and network solutions to help everyone navigate this new age of technological disruption.
However, Olympic technology isn’t just about the athletes; it is truly a global affair. The logistics and security measures surrounding such a large-scale event extend far beyond the confines of the Olympic Village and the borders of its host country. The miles traveled, money spent and data transferred in service of the games will impact institutions in nearly every nation.
This global unity is made convenient and safe by systems that operate behind the scenes, 24/7, to facilitate and protect international travel, trade and communication.
Well before the games even begin, attendees will spend millions of dollars on airfare, tickets and lodging, with their payments protected by Thales cybersecurity systems instituted at 19 of the world’s 20 largest banks.
As the opening ceremony draws near and global air traffic ramps up, border control agencies will be able to efficiently detect potential security threats, aided by Thales monitoring systems and biometric passport control technology.
Spectators and athletes from all corners of the globe will begin and end their journeys safely, thanks to Thales air-traffic navigation aids operating in more than 170 countries. Many will also be entertained in flight by a connected entertainment experience.
Global connectivity does not happen in a bubble. The safety and efficiency of international travel, trade and communication depends on numerous different public and private actors working together around the world. Airlines, banks, governments and law enforcement agencies alike will each play a part in getting every athlete, reporter and spectator to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Fortunately, many of them count on Thales to do whatever it takes to keep their planes, information, customers and citizens safe.
As Thales works to make the Olympic journey for athletes and spectators more enjoyable and secure, we wish every athlete and team the best of luck in Pyeongchang this winter.