New Technology enhances Winter Olympic Games

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This past week has been especially entertaining watching the 2018 Winter Olympics with speed skating, snowboarding, hockey, luge, and so much more. The games run from Feb. 8 through Feb. 25. and feature everything from virtual reality and drones to cloud-based technology and social media.

New technology comes to the Winter Olympic Games with Intel using roughly two dozen 180-degree cameras across 18 live events. It’ll shoot 30 events in total with another 12 with 360-degree cameras, all to create a mix of Virtual Reality (VR) live streams and video-on-demand content. Not only can you watch these events as they’re broadcast on television but you’ll have the ability to utilize different camera angles for specific events that put you in the venue. VR as seen on the NBC Sports VR app, allows users to select three to six camera locations per event or simply sit back and let a produced VR-cast take over. Intel also has live event broadcasts, highlights and the chance to “fly” through PyeongChang.

More than 1,200 automated Intel (INTC) drones – a world record – appeared in the shape of the five rings during the kickoff broadcast that was pre-taped on a Korean ski slope in December. Intel’s drones are large LED lights with propellers and sensors attached and weigh less than a pound. Computer software is used to coordinate where each drone flies and whether it’s lit up. The performance requires three employees to monitor the drones, and Olympic volunteers to help set up plus one employee, the pilot, to launch the automated show.

NBC, which is the official broadcast partner for the 2018 Winter Olympics in the U.S. and owns the rights to broadcast the Olympics until at least 2032, will provide 4K high-dynamic-range (4K HDR) coverage to distribution partners such as Comcast, DISH, and DirecTV. The technology, which displays images at over eight million pixels, will significantly expand the range of color and contract delivered to viewers. The opening ceremony, figure skating, hockey, short track speed skating, ski jumping, and snowboarding big air competitions will be among the featured events in 4K HDR. NBC is expected to offer 176 hours of total coverage. Including its other channels, such as NBCSN, CNBC, and USA, and its extensive online offerings, the broadcast company will air more than 2,400 hours of Olympic coverage. In addition to broadcast, viewers can watch the Olympics on the NBC Sports app, as well as on streaming services that include NBC in their subscriptions, such as Hulu, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV.

Social Media also plays a part in the Games with Snapchat hosting a range of exclusive content surrounding the games, as it introduced the streaming of live Olympics coverage from NBC to users in the U.S. NBC will feature content produced by Buzzfeed that will leverage the companies’ intimate access to the games. The Olympic Channel announced a multi-year agreement with Snapchat in an attempt to provide Snapchat users with original content and creative tools, such as themed filters and stickers, that engage younger demographics with the Olympics all year round. As part of that, Snapchat will produce an Our Stories channel featuring archival footage provided by the Olympic Channel team.

Technology even shows up in the uniforms. Ralph Lauren and the United States Olympic Committee debuted new uniforms for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams during the opening ceremonies that featured a wearable heating component that’s designed to keep athletes warm in PyeongChang’s cold temperatures that have gotten down into the low 20s. The heating system is made from flexible and stretchable conductive inks, printed in the shape of an American flag in carbon and silver ink that’s bonded to the interior of the jackets. The water-repellent inks connect to a battery pack with three settings that offer up to 11 hours of heating.

Under Armour also unveiled an updated uniform for the U.S. speed skating team similar to the company’s Threadborne technology, the warp knit has a sandpaper feel to reduce drag in the wind. The redesigned hood improves fit and the main body portion (the sections in blue) use a nylon spandex material with a polyurethane coating. An interior ceramic print creates a diamond-plated dimpled effect to help air move better over the body. Lab and wind testing dissected chemistry and yarn to create the best material for bursts, flow, cooling and aerodynamics.

On the snow, expect to see Oakley athletes wearing orange and yellow goggles with Oakley Prizm technology, a lens that enhances color details based on the environment by using dyes in the lens creation that’s designed to absorb certain light transmission in an effort to enhance contrast on the white snow and ice.

No matter how and where you watch this year’s Winter Olympic Games, the technology is sure to enhance your experience when you root for your favorite athlete and country.

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Kerry Keith