With the London 2012 Summer Olympics just around the corner, it’s time to sharpen that sports knowledge and start stretching. What makes London 2012 different than its predecessors is just how techy it’s become. Check out our list of the top 7 Olympic tech innovations you’ll find at this summer’s games.
7: Laser Guns – Yes, Star Wars is coming to the Olympics… sort of. First used at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympics, laser guns will be replacing the usual air pistols in London’s pentathlon shooting event. The upside: reduced cost, improved safety, and you can hold these events nearly anywhere. The downside: there’s no “Peeewww! Peeewww! Peeewww!” sound effects.
6: Robo Cameras – For security reasons, photographers won’t be allowed to shoot from stadium rafters at these Olympics. But that won’t keep photographers from calling the shots, so to speak. Robotic rigs, controlled by joystick-wielding paparazzi, will capture all the action. Yet another reason why you should have played more video games when you were a kid.
5: Real-Time Video Analysis – "If you win in IT [as in ‘eye-T’], you tend to win," says Sir Clive Woodward, the British Olympic Association's Director of Elite Performance. And it’s for that reason that Woodward has implemented Dartfish software, a cutting-edge video coaching and analysis tool that gives sideline coaches the ability to watch and analyze images on their iPhones and iPads for game time decision making on-the-fly.
4: All-New Timekeeping Technology – Omega, the official Olympic timekeeper, is unveiling the Quantum Timer as well as new track and field starter blocks at the games – a timer that’s 100 times faster and five times more accurate than previous devices. The starter blocks will now measure false starts by foot pressure, rather than movement, adding a whole new dimension to the expression, “No pressure!”
3: Exotic Materials and Equipment – At the 2006 Barcelona Olympics, Chris Boardman blew away the competition on his Lotus 108 pursuit bike, featuring a frame shaped like an airfoil and using a carbon composite monocoque. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, an astounding 98% of medal winners were wearing Speedo LZR swimsuits made of high-tech fabric. The list of unusual innovations at the London Games includes nano-coated sailing harnesses to help repel water and prevent the user from taking on additional weight; road racing bicycles built with the help of Formula 1 race car teams; custom-fitted clothing for each athlete’s unique anatomy, and even some good old fashioned espionage gear... uh... advanced reconnaissance equipment for doing your pre-event research.
2: High-Tech Track Surface – The track and field events at London are ripe for records and the track surface – created by Mondo – might be a big contributor. Unlike other tracks that attempt to combine traction and shock-absorption in an upper layer of rubber granules, the Mondo track separates these functions, with a solid upper layer that optimizes slip resistance, traction and durability, and a bottom layer that cushions impact.
1: Mobile Apps for Fans – Attending a live sporting event can be an unforgettable or regrettable experience depending on the venue, the location of your seat, and of course your fellow fans. Fans in London can catch all the action (from the stands or from the pub) using the BBC mobile app. Other must-haves include the Tom Daley Dive 2012 platform diving game, a Tube Map, and of course, the London Toilets app.