Thursday, August 4, 2016

Trends to Look for at Rio's Summer Olympics

There is much anticipation building as we wait for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio summer Olympics to start this Friday, August 5th. Top athletes from all around the world will make their way to Brazil to compete for the ultimate prize, a gold medal. This year, more so than others, technology will play a huge role in a variety of aspects at the games. Here are some of the major tech trends that can be spotted at this years summer Olympics. 

According to multiple articles, wearable technology will be all over Rio, from helping athletes train, to improving the overall experience for the Olympians. Here are a few examples of what kinds of wearable tech you'll see.

  • Visa's NFC-enables payment ring- this ring, mostly used by athletes and Visa employees, allows payments to be made with a simple wave of the hand.

Visa logo on table with credit card reader and persons hand wearing payment ring being scanned by machine
Photo Source
  • Solos- these augmented reality glasses are being used by the US cycling team to provide data driven training. These glasses are able to collect information such as power, speed and pedal revolutions from bike sensors and in real time, relay that information to the cyclists straight on their glasses. "With the ability for the athlete to reveice real-time feedback via the Solos smart glasses, they can now adjust on the fly," says Ernesto Martinez, a director at Solos.
Point of view from a Cyclist showing the interface they see wearing the Solo smart glasses
Photo Source
  • WHOOP- Being used by athletes for some time now, WHOOP is unlike traditional wearable devices. It tracks more than your heart rate and steps taken, it goes a step further and reports on "how travel is affecting them, how close they are to a potential injury, and how much training is too much training." (
Photo Source

Another trend you will notice this year is the attention large tech moguls are placing on the games. Google, Comcast, Twitter, Facebook, etc are all finding ways to make all the games (and relevant information) easily accessible to you. "Google announced on Monday that it's tuning up Search, YouTube, Trends, and Google Maps for a better mobile and online experience that helps fans find event information, official broadcaster videos, and user-generated content." (ZDNet) Twitter is also take part in the movement, launching a live Rio Olympics moments button, providing live content, highlights, and lots of new emojis. (digitaltrends)

Lastly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be highly used this year. Some of the products mentioned above and more utilize some form of AI to extract the pertinent data, and turn it into practical information that athletes can use when training. Virtual Assistants are one way to augment the way athletes interact with these different technologies. Connecting Virtual Assistants to these wearable devices makes for a simplified approach to analyzing data collected by these devices. Athletes can easily ask the VA some a question regarding their health, and the VA will use the information from the wearable device to give an appropriate response. See the video below for a short demonstration.

I am looking forward to seeing how these different technologies will impact the games this year. What are some other types of tech you are hearing about in Rio? Is it fair to be using these types of technology, does it give some countries an unfair advantage? What's your opinion?