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Olympian-sized Technology at Pyeongchang

From 5G breakthroughs to sensor-covered training suits, Pyeongchang’s 2018 Olympic Games are home to innovation of all types.

The Olympics have always served as a launching pad for huge inventions, and this year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang are no different. In the past, industry leaders have debuted technology that truly changed society, ranging from high-speed trains to color televisions, HD video and 3D broadcasting. Since this year’s opening ceremony, we’ve seen a fair share of great tech that is not only impacting athletes, but could be used to benefit our lives.

Intel’s Opening Drone Show

Intel kicked off the Olympics with a world record – 1,218 drones flying in harmony. While the show was pre-recorded, it was still a technical feat, as the machines flew around and formed the Olympic rings, a flying bird and a snowboarder. The impressive spectacle was a result of Intel’s Shooting Star platform, which allows animators to draw up 3D designs and have drones fill in each pixel once in air. This isn’t the first time Intel has wowed a crowd with their drones – the tech company also put on a drone show during its opening keynote at CES 2018. To show that CES serves as the proving ground for breakthrough technologies,the company performed the world’s biggest indoor drone light show, having the quadcopters whiz across Park Theater creating a flurry of patterns. Intel then displayed their drone show above the fountains of the Bellagio Hotel.

Virtual Reality (VR)

For the most realistic Olympian experience, NBC is airing more than 50 hours of live VR coverage powered by Intel True VR. The experience will allow viewers to explore the events (as well as the opening and closing ceremony) in 360 degrees, alongside a user interface complete with stats and scores. Before the games even started, the U.S. skiing team – including gold medalist Lindsey Vonn – also used VR to simulate what it’s like speeding down the slopes thanks to a program developed by CTA members STRIVR.

3D Printing

To help craft the perfect luge, U.S. Olympian competitors Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk turned to the 3D printing experts at Stratasys. Traditional manufacturers can take weeks to create a mold used to make the sled, but Stratasys printed theirs in less than one hour, according to CNET. Thanks to the unique style of manufacturing, Stratasys’ prints allowed the two lugers to quickly create the perfectly customized luge, and easily make tweaks to the luge’s design to optimize weight and aerodynamics. Stratasys is no stranger to practical 3D printing – they have also created racecar parts, prosthetic arms and surgery tools.

Samsung SmartSuits

Samsung first showcased its SmartSuit technology at CES 2017, when it was literally a business suit that could track your movement. But for the Olympics, the tech giant took the same technology and applied it to a speed skating uniform that “accurately measures the height from the hips to the ice down to the millimeter,” according to Samsung. By providing info on their exact body position and displaying it on your phone, the suit allows racers to find the perfect posture for skating. Coaches can also use the phone app to send a vibration to the skater’s wrist to communicate a need to alter their posture. The suit was used by Dutch short track speed skaters Sjinkie Knegt and Suzanne Schulting during training and paid off. Knegt won a silver medal and Schulting won one gold and one bronze medal.


To ensure these advanced devices stay connected, athletes and attendees depend on a new mobile network called 5G. South Korean mobile carrier KT is leading Pyeongchang’s 5G efforts, which could offer internet speeds roughly 100 times faster than what we have now. Olympic officials can seamlessly livestream in HD, 360 degrees or virtual reality with the new network. They are even using 5G to power a security system to deter wild boars with 360 degree cameras and drones. 5G has been a long-time coming – for years tech companies have acknowledged the need for stronger networks to match the increase in internet-enabled devices and advanced video forms. And at CES 2018, industry leaders such as Qualcomm and Intel showcased their investments and advances with 5G.

 The 2018 Winter Olympic games conclude on Sunday, February 25.

Jeremy Snow, Consumer Technology Association