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The Winter Games Show How Tech and Sports Intersect More than Ever

Kelsey Davis, Manager, Digital Media, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

The Winter (and Summer) Games put the world’s greatest athletes on display and inspire a global comradery as we watch contenders from around the globe compete for their countries. The tradition and rituals preserved by the Games may go back hundreds of years, but tech is one industry that is shaking up how the Winter and Summer Games are played and watched.

Sports and Athlete Technology

Yiannis Exarchos, the CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services and Executive Director of Olympic Channel Services, said at CES 2018 that technology and sports are a perfect match:

“I believe that sports and athletes are very unique for the exploitation of technology because they combine two things: unique human inspirational characteristics and values on one hand, and second, what they do is measurable. Because sports performance intrinsically can be measured; whether it’s a score or your performance. That means that it’s a treasure trove of data. A more perfect combination, even better than art even better than anything you can think — of applying opportunities of emerging technologies than on sports and athletes.”

Athletes of today have access to technology that can revolutionize how they train and how they take care of themselves. Wearable technology that tracks activity, heart rate and other performance indicators gives athletes a look into how their bodies are performing. Training technologies like virtual reality training programs give athletes a whole new way to practice for the biggest competitions of their lives. The data collected by these technologies allow athletes to analyze and optimize their performance.

Taking wearable tech to the next level, Ralph Lauren created the 2018 opening ceremony uniform for team USA using heat technology. The heating system within the jacket is created with electronic-printed conductive inks. With temperatures in PyeongChang hovering around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the Team USA athletes are sure to appreciate the innovation in these jackets.

Smart Venues and Smart Cities

We’ve all heard of smart cities, but what about smart venues? Smart venue technology can be a launch pad for smart cities, and it is revolutionizing the way fans watch and experience live sporting events.

From the consumer side, this includes technology that can allow for easier payment for merchandise at venues, customers to order food and beverage right from their seats, and other features that make the experience of going to a sporting event or concert more convenient.

From a business perspective, smart venues allow venue managers to more efficiently run the venue and advertise to their customers, while gathering data that will enable personalized experiences.

One application of this technology at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang is Visa’s payment wearables for people in attendance. Visa has launched NFC-enabled payment gloves, stickers and pins that allow Winter Games fans and athletes to pay with just a tap.

Marketing and Advertising

With the world’s attention focused on the Winter Games for two straight weeks, advertisers are bringing their A game. Brands know that they have to take advantage of new and exciting advertising mediums to break through the chatter surrounding the games, and that’s where tech comes in.

Hyundai Motor is showcasing their latest transportation solutions by offering test drives and transportation throughout the games, and Intel is using this opportunity to display its True VR technology by partnering with the Winter Games to allow users to view 30 different events in virtual reality.

Want more on the intersection of sports and technology? See the latest technology in this emerging field right from the CES 2018 show floor.