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Technology at the 2018 Winter Olympics


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With the world hooked on the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea (who knew how fixated we’d become on the artform that is curling), the tech world has certainly found out how to grasp – and experiment – in wild and wondrous ways; ways in which we would not have expected.

For example, what’s better than watching a human hurtle down a steep slope of compacted snow? Watching humanoid robots do so, of course!

When watching … beings, that aren’t human, nor animal take to an unnatural environment there’s always the risk of hitting the uncanny valley. Think slightly malfunctioning Disneyland animatronics or humanoid robots looking too human. What we witness during the aptly named ‘Edge of Robot: Ski Robot Challenge’ in Welli Hilli Ski Resort, however, was far from Uncanny. It was downright heart-warming.

Adorned in child-sized ski gear with names like Diana and Tibo, eight robots had the times of their short-lived lives down those slopes, captained by eight academic/institute-based robotics teams competing for a $10,000 prize. The sheer absurdity of witnessing these robots try their hardest whilst succumbing to record-low temperatures was endearing rather than disturbing, verging on hilarity due to the way in which they navigated the 80-meter slope.

Watching an athlete who has trained for years win – or fail – is exhausting yet exhilarating, but there is something about the light-heartedness (and absolute brilliance) of these feats of technology skiing. In the Olympics. We’re only two months into 2018 and this has become a beautiful thing.   

What else could the Winter Olympics hold? Well, instead of scaring the life out of yourself in a fictional horror environment, C630 Technologies are now enabling viewers of the Winter Olympics to become the athletes they’re marvelling at on screen. In other words, you can now experience the terrifyingly brutal speeds, manoeuvres and adrenaline in a first-person perspective.  

Powered by Intel and streamed directly to VR HMD mounts across the globe, C360’s high end 360 degree and VR cameras will be put to work during events such as short track speed skating, figure skating and hockey to the comfort of living rooms, providing an innovative and intelligent way to view sporting events.

CEO Evan Wimer stated that C360 ‘… believe[s] in the value that immersive video can bring to traditional sports broadcast[ing],’ and how ‘the Pyeongchang Olympics is the perfect event to introduce [their] newest GEN2 Immersive Camera system’ to the world. There’s no doubt that VR viewing of live events such as the Olympics will become the norm, and I for one welcome it with enthusiastic – and mildly apprehensive – open arms.

And who could forget how even drones became a popular talking point of the opening ceremony.  With a stunning performance of 1,218 drones, the aptly named Drone Light Shows Powered by Intel' won a Guinness World Records title.

With the ability to locate themselves without the need of GPS and a system that allows a performance to be pre-programmed to a swarm rather than individual drones, Intel’s mini-drones are set to be the ultimate tool for indoor – and outdoor – light shows at big events such as the Olympics. Even though the record-breaking number of drones were pre-recorded, 300 did appear at the ceremony and will continue to appear each night live for the medal ceremonies.

The utilisation and choreography of these 1,218 drones more than doubled Intel’s last record-breaking performance, which involved 500 drones flying together in Germany in 2016. Thousands of free-flowing, hovering lights attached to manless ‘aerial vehicles’ are certainly something to behold, and so is the technology behind them.

Who would’ve thought we’d have seen drones performing a dance routine, robots skiing and the ability to participate in a virtual Olympics? 2018 certainly is setting out to be a wild year.

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