The Winter Olympics hosted in China has become one of the world's most tech-savvy sports events.
Whether it be 5G-enabled medical services or virtual hosts using artificial intelligence, technology has been raising the bar for both athletes and audiences alike.
The imminent Winter Paralympics will also use cutting-edge technology to provide inclusive communication and hospitality for all, utilizing state-of-the-art services for athletes and spectators.
Using AI to produce virtual hosts is nothing new, and has been a staple in Asia for many years. However Ling Yu, the digitally-created host, is pushing boundaries by also being able to interpret sign language. This is especially impactful at the Paralympic Games.
Ling Yu's omnipresence through various displays across stadium complexes will help many deaf people interact with the event in ways never seen before. It is the product of collaboration between CCTV and several Chinese companies.
Inclusive communication is one of the fundamental tenets of the Olympic Games. Machine learning is now readily employed in live translation services, which allow people from different nationalities to converse in real time. Energy-efficient printing techniques using antibacterial nanomaterials will also mean that the largest rollout of braille in the history of the Winter Games will take place in Beijing.
AI also contributes toward understanding of the nuances in sport, and feeds enthusiastic audiences data on athlete performance. Anything biometric, from the speed of a skier to the degree of rotation of a snowboarder's trick, is displayed on screens in real time, adding depth to the standard replays shown in breaks.
Any large public event must also have appropriate emergency service infrastructure to protect guests. The Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics are among the first live sports events in the world to boast 5G-enabled smart ambulances. Such vehicles are capable of sending data in the form of live visual feeds and haptic feedback to control rooms with near zero latency. In plain terms, this means paramedics equipped with VR headsets and joysticks can be guided by clinicians in real time, allowing a wider range of procedures to be performed more quickly, as well as medical records and incidents to be shared faster.
The Winter Games that have gone, and the Paralympic Games, which begin on Friday, both promote the ideologies of an inclusive society, both nationally and between nations on the international stage. Integrating people from a diverse range of backgrounds, skills, and abilities is a key message of the Olympics, and technology helps us amplify this.
Beyond the Games, fields such as AI and 5G are an integral part of the Chinese government's plan in progressing national infrastructure. Being able to showcase the fruits of labor from cutting-edge industries in the Olympics is a positive sign for their respective markets too, with economic opportunities following close behind.