PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics
The convergence of sport and technology
Much is written in the media about the legacy of the Olympic Games and its long-term impact on host cities and countries. Reports about the mounting problems associated with hosting The Games are common, focusing on the rising costs of unused venues and disparaging sentiment on the long-term value to society. What’s missing: constructive commentary on the positive commercial legacy that the Olympic Games can bring through the showcasing of technological innovation by TOP and domestic partners.
The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games saw an exciting convergence of sport and technology, which will act as a catalyst for the advancement of delivery and consumption of events. At GMR, we’re excited about what we witnessed on the ground and how it has the potential to drive more growth for the Olympic Movement as well as its athletes, fans and commercial partners.
The new fan experience
The fan experience has been significantly enhanced through collaboration between TOP Partner Intel and Korea-based KT Corporation to deliver the first broad-scale 5G mobile network to the Olympics. Fans with compatible devices could access new 5G-powered experiences—including live 360-degree video streaming, VR and AR—at speeds of up to 100 times faster than the current 4G standard.The network will not be introduced to the rest of Korea until 2019 and even later abroad. However, those who experienced 5G in PyeongChang have compared its potential impact to a fourth industrial revolution.
PyeongChang 2018 also saw cloud services and ecommerce provider Alibaba augment the fan experience by providing facial recognition systems, travel guidance and enhanced content creation capabilities for fans, athletes and the media. These are all part of a plan to upgrade ticketing, media and video services over the coming years.
Next-Generation Visual Tracking
Long-term IOC TOP partner Omega developed an innovative camera tracking system that delivers precise information for ice hockey players, including the number of shifts, passes, speed, acceleration and time on the ice. Omega used similar equipment to analyze alpine skiing, speed skating, ski jumping and bobsledding. The analytics and statistics garnered allow real-time review and explanation of the field-of-play action that in turn, create live engagement for fans. Though they are nascent technologies, their adoption during regular game play is already being discussed by professional sports properties.
The new digital broadcast era
Virtual Reality + Streaming
GMR client and IOC rights-holding broadcaster Discovery Eurosport pushed the threshold of innovation through the introduction of a virtual reality app and the streaming of every event of the games live on their Eurosport Player digital platform.
Perhaps the most exciting innovation was the launch of an Olympic Games world first: the Eurosport Cube studio. The studio used augmented reality and enhanced data to create an immersive and interactive environment that provided fans with superior analysis of the sporting action. Eurosport talent and Olympic gold medalist Bode Miller used the Cube studio and its augmented reality innovation to interact with 3D coverage of Lindsey Vonn’s competitions. This included the technique of “ghosting” that allowed Miller to directly compare Vonn with another skier.
Continuing the trend of new viewing opportunities, TOP Partner Intel presented The Games in virtual reality, bringing fans at home closer to the Olympic Games than ever before through unique perspectives and real-time updates. In partnership with Olympics Broadcast Services, Intel captured and delivered 360-degree videos to 10 broadcast partners around the world via the Intel TrueVR system. The delivery of a unique and immersive broadcast experience to viewers made the Winter Olympics in Korea the largest virtual reality event to date.
The convergence of sport and technological innovation is progressing at a more rapid pace than ever before and this will have an unprecedented impact on the future of the Olympic Games.