The Olympics are great for technology. Yes, the competition held every four years highlights amazing athletes. But its vast support network relies on numerous technologies, including GNSS.
GNSS technology helped fans follow the canoe sprint and rowing events in Rio in more detail than before. With GPS devices attached to every vessel, spectators were able to see key data such as speed and direction — information that helps when following a lengthy race taking place offshore.
For the first time, Olympic athletes used high-tech wearables to give them an edge. Solos Smart Eyewear was designed for the USA’s Cycling team with features that allowed cyclists to see key metrics such as speed, power, distance, cadence and heart rate, plus more data from any number of connected sensors.
Drones Aloft. Drone technology has exploded since the London 2012 Olympics. In Rio, broadcasters experimented with hovering cameras. The BBC worked with Open Broadcast Service to provide international broadcasters with drone coverage of the rowing.
As for hobbyists, drone-maker DJI updated its firmware with Olympic geofences, preventing drones from flying over events. Not every drone manufacturer implements geofences, so the Brazilian military was equipped with new devices to jam drone-control signals mid-flight. The IACT DroneBlockers blast incoming drones with radio signals, effectively jamming the signal from the controller.
Beware Zika. Meanwhile, mapping technology is helping to track the spread of the Zika virus. Before the games, the World Health Organization launched a Zika app to provide information about the disease.
After the Olympics, IBM will provide local authorities with ways to track weather, social media data and travel patterns. Esri is supporting local authorities and coordinating field workers to track and contain the disease in Brazil and elsewhere.
What’s next? We’ll find out in Tokyo in 2020.