Even though it’s July 2021, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are about to kick off. A year postponement because of the pandemic gave creators and innovators some additional time to hone the latest technology that will be put into action during the Games.

Olympics Broadcasting Services will produce more than 9,500 hours of content during these Games using more than 1,000 camera systems and 3,600 microphones. They released a media guide outlining everything from broadcasting complexity to sustainability during production. But the part that jumped out to me, of course, is the state-of-the-art technology we’ll witness during the events.

How to watch the Tokyo Olympics

Biometric data

Although archers may look like they are completely motionless as they pull back their bows, there are still slight biometric changes taking place in their bodies. For the first time at the Olympics, viewers will see that data thanks to live heart rate monitoring.

There will be four cameras 4 feet from and focused on the archer’s face. Viewers will be see on-screen graphics showing how the athletes’ heartbeats change and highlight any adrenaline rushes. These cameras are analyzing the slightest change in skin color that happens when blood vessels contract, according to the Olympics Broadcasting Services.

Panoramic coverage

“A myriad of high-speed 4K cameras” enable a totally new way to get up-close to all the action for basketball, gymnastics, track and field, cycling, golf, soccer, skateboarding, sport climbing and volleyball, the Olympic Broadcasting Systems said. These multi-camera replay systems can show replays from various 360-degree angles. Think back to “The Matrix” when the camera pans around a character while they float in midair. That’s the idea here. A camera operator can decide at what point to freeze the motion and can then manipulate the replay from side to side around the athlete, as well as zoom in. These replay clips can be ready in in a flash, taking under five seconds to be ready to air.

3D athlete tracking

Viewers will get real-time insights and overlay visualizations during the sprint events (100m, 200 meter, 400 meter, 4x100 meter relay and decathlon/heptathlon). The Olympics Broadcasting Systems said that Intel and Alibaba have teamed up to develop this new 3D Athlete Tracking technology powered by artificial intelligence and computer vision.

Viewers will see how the athletes are performing and how they compare against one another. The detail will even show at what exact moment each sprinter reached their top speed and will show a color-coded visualization of runners’ changes in speed. 

Cooler clothing

Ralph Lauren is introducing a new technology called “RL COOLING,” developed specifically for Team USA athletes. 

“Recognizing Tokyo’s summer heat, we sought to develop a solution for Team USA that fuses fashion and function,” according to David Lauren, chief branding and innovation officer and vice chairman of the board for the Ralph Lauren Corp.

The product senses body temperature and disperses heat from the wearer’s skin though a sophisticated device. In its news release, the company said it’s the same technology used to cool the world’s most advanced computer systems. Ralph Lauren says “the effect is a cooling sensation that can be immediately felt and is long-lasting, even in the most oppressive heat.”

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Team USA’s flag bearer will wear the technology during the Olympic and Paralympic opening ceremony parades.

Olympic robots

The 2020 Tokyo Robot Project announced it would be using robots in a variety of ways at the 2020 Games. There will be robot mascots, Miraitowa and Someity, who were initially going to welcome spectators, but will be reserved now for athletes, since spectators are not allowed. 

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The Toyota field events support robot will be on hand at throwing events. It has an automatic driving function and can self-navigate to retrieve items such as javelins or hammers. By doing so, the robot means fewer staff members need to be at the events and the robots may even have faster retrieval skills than humans anyway, according to Olympics.com.  

Technology won’t be the star during Tokyo 2020, but it sure adds insight and fascination to those who tune in to watch. Let the games begin.

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