14 Technologies That Are Changing the OlympicsFebruary 3, 2014
14 Technologies That Are Changing the Olympics
While us sports fans tend to think that athletes change the world of sports, there's actually another factor that often gets overlooked—technology.
Sure, guys like LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick and Yasiel Puig are bigger, stronger and faster than others from the past, but a lot of that has to do with the advancements in tech in helping them understand their bodies and training habits.
What better place to see how that evolution affects the games more than at the Winter Olympics, which, undoubtedly, will feature plenty of new gadgets that athletes and fans are taking advantage of.
This might not be something that will commonly be used during the Olympics, but it's definitely something that I needed to acknowledged as being utilized before the Games.
That's because two teams—the Jamaican bobsled and a few athletes from India—have utilized these digital currencies to get donations in order to fund their trips to Sochi.
Not only does it speak volumes to the good deeds people will do for others, but it shows creative ways that athletes are taking advantage of digital trends.
Editor's Note: Jamaican bobsled mention at one-minute in video.
Eye-Tracking Ski Goggles
For those who are serious about getting the most out of their slope experience—as British snowboarder Zoe Gillings is—then dropping $58,000 on a pair of eye-tracking goggles isn't a big deal.
After failing to medal in the previous two Winter Olympics, Gillings admitted that she focused on other competitors during races, leaving her hesitant to take chances in tight spots.
With the help of technology, though, she scooped up a pair of some special goggles, complete with a camera focused on the eye and one on the track ahead of you, helping her focus on what's in front and not so much with what's to the side.
Zoe is hoping it's the difference between medaling and missing the cut in this year's Games.
I'm not sure about you, but personally speaking, I'm such a visual person. I know, it's weird because I'm paid to write things.
And thanks to this new technology called Ubersense Coach, Team USA bobsled coaches are hoping that a little more visualization will help enhance the performances of their athletes.
An app for a variety of mobile devices, Ubersense doesn't only record the activity of an athlete, but actually has the ability to break it down into super slow motion, allowing anyone to compare technique side-by-side and frame-by-frame to analyze tendencies.
Talk about a new way of studying film.
Xfinity's 'X1' Media Service
Now, normally I wouldn't think that adding in something as dull as cable TV would be an emerging technology, but in this case, with the way Xfinity's "X1" service will bring the Games to fans like never before, I just had to include it.
As most of us found out during the 2012 Olympics in London, it can be difficult to avoid seeing results of events online or other places.
So Xfinity is putting the viewers in charge, allowing them to take advantage of a Netflix-like service to get all the action easily on every single device—just to keep the excitement level high.
Samsung's 'WOW' App
Don't like watching certain events during the Winter Olympics?
No worries at all. The Samsung "WOW" app will let fans customize exactly what they want to watch, giving the viewers the capability to personalize their experience.
Whether sports nuts are using the app to test their Winter Olympics knowledge with trivia, reading the rules on a sport they're unfamiliar with or just getting in-game updates, this app seems to have brought the entire event to users' fingertips—without the hassle of traveling to Sochi.
The Bolshoy Ice Dome and Shayba Arena
None of us reading this might be able to land a ticket to any of the Sochi Games, but the good news is that we'll still be able to enjoy them comfortably on our own couches—and when an event is going on at one of these two arenas, it will be quite the spectacle.
Housing hockey for the Games, both the Bolshoy Ice Dome and Shayba Arena are state-of-the-art in every way.
Shayba—meaning “puck” in Russian—has a blue-gray roof that actually has colors travel around the side of the cylindrical-shaped building while an event is going on, making it the center of attention no matter inside or outside of the building.
As cool as Shayba appears, Bolshoy may be even cooler—especially at night.
An aluminum-paneled dome with 38,000 LED lights, the arena offers a sleek look for fans, with a concourse that points towards the Caucasus Mountains.
PRINOTH Snow Grooming Machines
While all of us—especially the athletes—hope for perfect, wintry conditions for the Games, the fact is that Sochi will be quite mild, so the weather is a crapshoot.
As you'll read later, steps are being made to try and handle that.
In the meantime, the best way that organizers can make sure that what snow there actually is is in pristine shape is by using a few of these PRINOTH snow groomers.
With a price tag of over $20 million, the IOC knows that combing the powder will be necessary to make competitors happy—so there wasn't going to be a penny saved to make that happen.
Team Great Britain's Kit
You might be asking yourself, "Why the hell did he include something as mundane as fashion on a tech piece, right?"
It's because what Team Great Britain will be wearing during the Games might look good, but it's actually designed to make them feel good, too—all while helping maximize their performance.
The team's official sponsor—Adidas—has developed some seriously dope tech gear for them, which include items such as heatpants—which helps maintain muscle warmth during warm-ups—and powerweb technology, which stores and replenishes energy.
Designed with tighter material around specific muscles, British athletes will be able to stave off muscle fatigue like never before.
Let's just all hope it doesn't give them the competitive advantage to take home the most medals.
While skiing or snowboarding, the name of the game is being comfortable.
That's why the U.S. Olympic team made sure that they had the best technology in place for their Olympians before sending them to Sochi to compete, allowing scientists at Natick Army Labs to test and develop Burton apparel's DRYRIDE Vaporshell laminate.
With the weather in Sochi actually quite mild, the tech was put into place so that it keeps riders dry during their runs—both from the outside and their own sweat—but breathes nicely, letting athletes layer if they want to.
This is something that hasn't been seen in winter gear, so athletes should be stoked about it.
'Mach 39' Speedskating Suit
For all you golfers out there, you probably know that the balls you crush off the tee have dimples because they help maintain velocity to carry the ball farther.
Naturally, this law of physics is now being applied to other things in sports—and the Mach 39 speedskating suit is the latest.
Looking sleek and stylish, these skins will be worn by Team USA in hopes to shed a few seconds off of their times.
After some crazy testing helped determine what critical areas were to be focused on in order to disrupt airflow, speed skaters like Patrick Meek and Shani Davis should have a great chance of bringing home some medals.
Team USA's BMW-Designed Bobsled
Known as some of the best designers in the world of automobiles, Team USA's bobsled team decided to test the knowledge of BMW to help invent a world-class sled for Sochi.
The result? Pure gold—or so the Americans hope.
In a sport where the slightest thousandth of a second can make the difference between medaling and missing out, this newly designed ride is narrower, sleeker and wrapped in carbon fiber, making it something that should fly down the ice.
Have I mentioned that the weather is expected to be mild in Sochi—just a few times, right?
With that in mind, organizers aren't taking any chances of making the Games a mess, bringing in all precautions to have them run smoothly.
And since the Winter Olympics can't go without snow, the IOC have decided to use snow makers for the first time ever to make sure there's powder everywhere—well, at least on the slopes.
It's an unprecedented move, so it will be interesting to see if and how it might effect the outcome of the events.
Injury Prevention and Recovery
Although no one ever wants to see an injury, the truth is that they happen a lot in sports—especially ones where athletes are flying or riding around on ice and snow.
And while U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn may not be participating in the Games because of her injury—instead joining NBC to help broadcast—she should be recognized in her work to at least try and get back.
With an ever-changing world in injury prevention and recovery, Vonn is just one former Olympian who has utilized technological advancements to help get her back on the slopes sooner rather than later.
SkyTechSport Sochi Simulator
We all might like to play our video games and feel like we're part of the action, but Olympians are actually starting to use first-hand simulators to their advantage these days to educate themselves.
At least that's what a few snowboarders are doing to help get down all the twists and turns of a course, even mimicking real wind conditions, vibrations and, yes, even G-force effects for a rider to help maintain balance.
Who knows if it will actually make a difference, but I'd think that putting themselves in a virtual reality setting before dropping down the slopes will definitely provide an advantage.