IoT means the Olympics will never be the same again

August 24, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Uncategorized


IoT athlete

Francisco Maroto

OIES Consulting founder Francisco Maroto reviews the use of tech in the Rio Olympic games this year and looks ahead to how IoT might be utilised for Tokyo 2020.

During the last two weeks, millions of people have been watching the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

In my post The future of “The Internet of Olympic Games” I wrote: “We will not remember Rio 2016 Olympics as the best Games ever, but as the first Internet of Things Olympics.” And a month ago, Brazilian Elly Resende, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games CIO, explained how we will sense Internet of Things (IoT) in the city during the event.

Rio was the beginning of the use of IoT in world-class athletics, but Rio is past – the future is the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The potential that Tokyo 2020 has for the use of IoT is almost magic.

Analysts, companies and gurus have been bombarding us with many predictions about the Internet of Things. Who has not read or heard about the billions of connected things coming, and trillions to be made from business impact? So, if these predictions are to come true, why shouldn’t IoT take the 2020 Tokyo Olympics games to another level?

Here’s what we could expect from the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo:

Tokyo 2020: Robot City

Japanese researchers need to amaze the world by rolling out Olympic robots in Tokyo 2020. The robots will complement Olympic volunteers helping athletes, visitors and citizen to live a unique Tokyo smart city experience.

Olympic Robots will also be a teaser to attract tourists to Tokyo 2020, and make the city more friendly and secure.

IoT Olympic Service Providers

In Tokyo 2020 there should be a focus on improving the athletes’ and fans’ experience by connecting the Olympic things that matter (Olympic devices, athlete clothing, wearables, smart stadiums and smart cities).

Social networks, TV broadcasters and Olympics open data will be aggregated by IoT Olympic Service Providers (IoT OSP). The followers of the Tokyo 2020 Games should be able to subscribe IoT Olympics services that will be able to provide a real-time Olympics analytics experience.

The first cyber athlete (beyond the super athlete)

Technology companies, military and scientists have been working for many years on secretive human augmentation projects that enhance human productivity or capability, or that somehow add to the human body.

Athletes in many cases have served as guinea pigs. Take Cisco ® Connected Athlete, which turns the athlete’s body into a distributed network of sensors and network intelligence! When the human body uses the Connected Athlete’s network of sensors, the athlete becomes more than just a competitor – he or she becomes a Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN).

In Will the Internet of Things make us superhuman? Scott Amyx explain how technology is quickly redefining what it means to be human: “From artificial skin, limbs and organs to touchable holograms and gesture-controlled devices, the trend is quite clear: Transhumanism will very likely be the next stage of human development.

“Every element of human physiology — the senses, organs (including the brain), skeleton and muscles — will be enhanced. These improvements will be primarily driven by advances in wearables and the Internet of Things.”

From 3D to 4D printing

The following is an excerpt from Gartner’s 3 Trends Appear in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2016:

“With most companies focusing on 3D printing applications in the business world, others are looking ahead even further to 4D printing, where materials are coded with a dynamic capability. Using this new shape-shifting material, a sports apparel company could design an adaptive running shoe with a sole that adjusts to wet pavement versus dry pavement to improve grip.

“Using the same idea, medical companies could design self-assembling stents to reduce surgery times and improve patient outcome. The building industry could design walls that adjust thickness during the winter to increase insulation.”

In Tokyo 2020, some IoT innovations will be pushing human performance to the limit. Sport science and technology will help athletes to optimise their physical output.

Smart Sports

I counted 27 Olympic sports in Rio 2016, including rugby and golf. Sensor systems are being used in nearly every sport so that in-venue spectators, viewers and supporters can judge for themselves whether the athletes truly are faster and stronger than before.

This encompasses everything from millimetric measurements for archery and shooting competitions, laser-finders for golf, intelligent nets for volleyball, and real-time measurements for coaches and trainers delivered from sensors around the arena and wearables.

For Tokyo 2020, why shouldn’t smart bicycles, balls, boats, canoes, rackets, swords, rowing, clothes, gloves, helmets, glasses and horses will be the new normal?

With the IoT, hundreds of startup companies are contributing to create better, faster, stronger athletes and smart sports.

Startups that could change the Olympics as we know it

IoT Olympic judges

I am convinced that technology helps make the sport more just. Take inventions like Hawk-Eye – created by Paul Hawkins – a technology that is now an integral part of the spectator experience when watching tennis live.

Technology companies need to design sensors and technology to help Olympic judges make their decisions more accurately and objectively. Olympic federations need to test the technologies quickly and approve them in time for Tokyo 2020. As spectators we expect real-time information and transparency in terms of difficulty, degree of compliance and final score.

The IoT technology doesn’t claim to be infallible – just very, very reliable and Olympic judges also need to be adapted to new technologies.

The Internet of Things is changing Sports and Athletes and Judges. If well applied, the Internet of Things could take the 2020 Tokyo Olympics games to whole new level.

About the author

Francisco Maroto is Managing Director and founder at OIES Consulting, an IoT Consulting Services company. He has over 20 years of international experience in the fields of Information Technology, Telecommunications, Machine-to-Machine and Internet of Things.

Prior to launching OIES Consulting, he worked in different roles for the communications sector in companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Amdocs, SAP, HP and Vodafone. His IoT/M2M experience also include many Industrial projects for different sectors.

In November 2016 Francisco will mediate a panel at IoT World in Europe.