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Rio 2016 – The Olympics Tech Affair Gets Bigger And Better

Avatar Written by Priyanka K

The word ‘Olympics’ evokes vivid images in one’s mind, of countless sports and athletes, their preparation, the intense competition, the finish lines, energy, spirit, greatness, medals, celebration, and so on. Add technology to that list. The 2016 Summer Olympics, more popularly known as the Rio Olympics, are showcasing some of the best technology experience, thanks to pioneers like Atos, Cisco, Samsung, GE, and many others who are associated with this year’s games.

Atos is the worldwide Information Technology (IT) Partner for both Olympics & Paralympics 2016. Along with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Rio Olympics Organizing Committee, Atos inaugurated the Technology Operations Center for Rio 2016 nine months in advance, in November 2015. This center will also be reused for higher efficiency and reduced costs in future games. Cisco has the task of delivering products and services that will aid broadcast of events from nearly 26 venues, including support for online video content. Samsung will bring the best of wireless technology for the spectators, including real-time coverage and interactive communications. GE is catering to multiple needs of the event; be it solutions that helped Rio up its infrastructure for such a large scale affair or monitoring electronic medical records of competing sportspersons. These are just few of the names and a mention of some of their contributions, but what we need to turn attention to is the fact that large scale sporting events are probably turning into one of the most favorite arenas for IT companies.

And why not? Such events not only provide an opportunity to get huge contracts, they also provide suppliers with the chance of showcasing the potential of their services and solutions on a much grander scale. The IT budget for this year’s games is said to be about 1.5 billion dollars. Almost every aspect of the latest technological offerings is being served on the Rio Olympics plate, including advanced cloud computing, big data analytics, and virtual reality (VR). Participating athletes, live audiences, and television/online spectators, all have something new to experience. For instance, sensor systems are present in just about every event helping people get a clear view of whether athletes have advanced or dropped when compared to their previous performance. Inaccuracies in judgement or possibilities of a player winning by cheating are going to become things of the past. Television might still rule in terms of audience reach but VR will redefine some of the select live events and anyone with a VR headset will get the feel of an up-close 360-degree perspective, a feat in Olympics broadcasting. The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) will be providing close to 85 hours of Rio in VR. Currently deployed on an experimental basis, this is highly likely to be a much bigger part of the future.

In general, if we take a look at the IT industry’s involvement in the Sports industry, it has grown manifold with every passing year. Observe the latest disruptive trends in Sports and you will know that it is all about extravagant media streaming services, wearable technology, designing infrastructure like stadiums of the future, professional video gaming, and so on. Suddenly, the futuristic fantasy technologies mentioned in ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins feel like they can be a reality.

The dependency of professional sports and related events on IT will increase in the time to come. Those tech companies who haven’t yet dived into the sector will make the move sooner or later. While there are already quite a few startups offering sports technologies, many big IT players are also becoming increasingly involved. In the past, we have heard of the Tech Mahindra-FIFA alliance, and in recent times, companies like HCL and Wipro have tied up with football clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea respectively. Infosys also has entered in to a partnership with Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

Also worth mentioning is that educational instituitons too are ensuring that they are able to cater to the specific talent demands of the IT industry with courses like ‘Information Technology in Sports’ on offer. These are currently limited to a few colleges and universities but are sure to extend in future. With rising needs in this sector, it will be interesting to see if and at what pace is the demand for right talent fulfilled. It will be a risk to consider for sure, as gaps are already being experienced in the technology field in general. Those who succeed in the battle for the best tech talent out there will definitely have that added advantage when compared to their competition.

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