Team IoT Takes the Stage with VR, AI at the Tokyo Olympics

The Olympics are here. After a year-long postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes from around the world are gathering in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games. Without fans in the stands, companies are looking to IoT to bring the Olympics to fans at home and maximize the efficiency and experience at the Games.


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Image credit: The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games

IoT usage is reaching a new record this year, as the need for virtual, immersive experiences hits an all-time high. The Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), the organization responsible for providing Olympic content to all broadcasters, is expanding virtual reality technology used in the 2016 and 2018 Olympic Games and using Intel® True VR technology at Tokyo 2020.

Intel® True VR will offer an immersive Olympic experience to all viewers, regardless of where they are. To do so, stereoscopic camera pods located all around the stadium will provide panoramic views of the athletes and the action. The camera pods operate on Intel® Xeon® processors that are connected to Intel-based servers. Intel® True VR uses the data from all of the camera pods and processes it into a single, high-quality, real-time video stream using Intel® high-performance computing (HPC) and software algorithms. The Intel® True VR stream is viewable on mobile devices and can also be connected to VR headsets for a totally immersive experience. 

A Gold Medal Network Connects 42 Venues

Tokyo’s Olympic campus will feature a 5G network and some of the most advanced technologies seen in the Olympics. Cisco, NTT DOCOMO, and Intel have partnered with the IOC to power the infrastructure for the 2020 Olympic Games. The network is built on the Intel® Xeon® processor, system-on-a-chip (SOC), and solid-state drive (SSD), and is the foundation of Cisco’s secure network infrastructure in Tokyo. The network will help connect the 42 competition venues, including the Olympic Stadium, and more than a dozen additional sites, such as the Athletes’ Village, broadcasting centers, and hotels. 

This year, OBS plans to broadcast more than 50 live feeds, showing nearly 10,000 hours of content during the Olympic Games. For the first time in Olympic history, the Games will be directly broadcast in ultra high definition 4K (UHD), and high dynamic range (HDR) technology. The high resolution of UHD offers viewers an image with greater contrast, color, and detail. People can watch the feeds on their phones, TVs, VR headsets, and other devices. 

To go along with the stepped-up visuals, new audio technology will be used during the 2020 Olympic Games. Intel’s immersive audio uses a 5.1.4 format, which uses five microphones, four speakers, and one bass channel to capture audio from a noise source. OBS will integrate the immersive audio in its broadcasts, giving at home viewers the sounds on the ground. 

Video camara attached to roof at stadium arena

Image credit: Intel® True VR

The Olympic Beat

That’s not the only place next-gen audio technology will be deployed. The tech team at Tokyo used artificial intelligence to develop and compose the official “beat” for the 2020 Olympic Games. The official beat is the melodic rhythm that accompanies the athletes when they appear at the venues and is designed to encourage fan interaction. 

The development team used Intel® AI technology to help create the beat by combining a range of more than 1,000 sounds representing sports, Japanese culture, and nature. The beat will be heard throughout the Olympic venues. At-home fans can submit video clips using the beat to show support for athletes as part of the Share the Passion project. During the Games, the videos will be broadcast for the athletes inside the Olympic and Paralympic venues.

Although the Olympic Stadium may be short on fans, it is not lacking in technology. Virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and 5G are making the Olympic Games the smartest to date. Their integration will give at home viewers an immersive and dynamic Olympic experience from afar. 


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