PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics: A perfect marriage of sport and technology

PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics: A perfect marriage of sport and technology

According to Bloomberg’s most recent Innovation Index South Korea is the global leader in science and technology. So, when the Winter Olympics came to PyeongChang, the world had high hopes and South Korea delivered superbly with what has been hailed the most tech-centric Olympics ever.

The curtain-raising Opening Ceremony was like no other, setting a real precedent for the Games. Aside from the usual flag parades and fireworks displays, Olympic sponsor Intel set the tone by treating viewers to a stunning and world record setting 1,128-drone light show, pushing the boundaries of tech possibilities in an exciting new field.

This spectacular showcase of technology was only the start and twinned with a steady stream of jaw-dropping sporting moments, South Korea showed why it is the world leader in innovation.

Amazing achievements of human accomplishment on snow and ice, from the record-breaking heroics of two-sport Gold medallist Ester Ledecka to the dominating Dutch speed skaters, were interjected by equally amazing scientific achievements including the use of 5G internet connection, virtual reality viewing and our personal favourite, skiing robots.

Within the boundaries of competition itself tech was also playing a huge part as countries across the globe showcased their latest revolutionary developments to give them that extra edge.

At home, Team GB’s skeleton suits were at the heart of controversy. Whilst only accounting for marginal gains, the suits designed by the English Institute of Sport and TotalSim did the trick as Lizzy Yarnold scooped Team GB’s maiden gold medal – much to the disappoint of rival athletes.

Further afield, USA’s bobsled team turned to German automaker BMW to design lightweight carbon fibre sleds inspired by ultra-aerodynamic Formula 1 cars. Two Dutch speed skaters, meanwhile, wore Samsung’s SmartSuits, embedded with sensors that provide real-time body data during competition for longer-term performance insights. The suits even enabled messages could even be relayed to athletes via vibrations.

Even Team USA’s Ralph Lauren winter jackets contained conductive inks that, through enhanced stretch function, provided up to 11 hours’ continuous insulation, keeping them nice and warm in the freezing temperatures.

Adapting to change is vital in sport, and no better example of how technology is advancing can be seen than at PyeongChang 2018. We’d embrace a time where Pep Guardiola and co had the ability to track player data real-time whilst pitch side. Or where Roger Federer’s eye-tracking glasses allowed him to foresee where his shot response is weakest – similar to those worn at the Games by British snowboarder Zoe Gillings. The possibilities are endless.

As technology continues to make in-roads in sport, some more welcome than others (VAR, anyone?), PyeongChang was a masterpiece in how to marry tech and sport to celebrate new frontiers of human achievement. There has been a new benchmark set in this, the most high-tech Olympics ever, which Tokyo 2020 will now aim to elevate further. We, for one, cannot wait.