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In 1964, satellite technology was used for the first time in the history of Olympic broadcasting, to spread the games to a global audience. Since then, technology has come a long way and this year marks another milestone in Olympic history.
We got our nation’s athletes like Lee Zii Jia, Azizulhasni Awang, Aaron Chia, Pandelele Rinong and others to represent Malaysia in real time thanks to cloud technology. Alibaba cloud, the cloud computing arm of the Alibaba group, was one of the key players in building the blocks that moved the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to the digital age.
1. Emerging an innovative change in Olympic transmission
The use of cloud technology in media and dissemination is not exactly new. Services like Netflix and Spotify with millions of users have relied on cloud technology since its inception.
Leveraging cloud technology for broadcasting, OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) has reduced the footprint of its outreach center by 30%, compared to the Rio Olympics in 2016. Especially with the pandemic still ongoing, having fewer employees present at the site can reduce the potential for an outbreak.
That said, the move to cloud transmission was not a pandemic reaction by OBS. They have partnered with Alibaba Cloud to create OBS Cloud in 2018 and have tested their ability at previous Youth Olympics.
Yiannis Exarchos, CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services, said this partnership with Alibaba Cloud had transformed the way games were broadcast. He stressed that “this [cloud-based broadcasting] is perhaps the the biggest technological change in the broadcasting industry for more than half a century since the introduction of satellite transmission. “
With OBS Cloud, the broadcast committee created, stored, and managed nearly 9,000 short content clips on its platform. Rights-Holding Broadcasters (RHBs), which have subscribed to specific services, could instantly retrieve clips from any of their global facilities over the Internet.
Subscribed RHBs will have access to all clips recorded and stored on Content +, an online platform compatible with the cloud infrastructure. They could then publish them immediately to their own multimedia platform or mark them up for post-production as the games happen in real time.
Note: In Malaysia, Astro, RTM and Unifi TV are the official broadcasters of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
2. Sensorless tracking capability for athletes
In addition to recording games, cameras also play an important role during the Olympics. Cameras can be called in to capture the precise moment an athlete crosses the line, in what the industry calls a “photo-finish”.
Still, four of the cameras aimed at athletes during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics did something completely different. They had the task of tracking the movement and shape of the athletes, all without the athletes carrying sensors or trackers.
3DAT (3D Athlete Tracking) was a technology born of a partnership between Intel and Alibaba Cloud. 3DAT cameras will collect biomechanical data from athletes and, using Intel computer technology, the data will be analyzed and transformed into overlapping visualizations shown during repetitions.
3. Protection of staff members on the ground
While most of us enjoyed the games from the comfort of our own home, the athletes, coaches, and staff members had to withstand one of the most popular Olympics in history.
July and August were expected to be the hottest in the nation, reaching a maximum of 35 degrees. It was so hot and humid during the event that one of the archers collapsed while checking the final score.
But the athletes were not the only match subjected to the heat, as staff members also had to endure the scorching temperatures. To help prevent staff members from suffering from heat stroke, Alibaba Cloud created them and equipped them with an in-ear device that could track body temperature and heart rate.
Your body temperature and heart rate collected on your device will be sent to the cloud, and if staff are at risk, you will receive an alert along with precautionary measures to reduce the chance of them falling victim to the heat.
4. A safer method of trading enamel pins
In addition to the shiny medals, small and colorful enamel pegs were also worn as badges of honor at the Olympics. The pine trade was regarded as one long tradition this dates back to 1896. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, pine enthusiasts may have to see their tradition disappear.
With this in mind, Alibaba Cloud believes they can keep the tradition alive for media professionals who work hard on site. Therefore, they came up with a solution that allows the trade of pines while maintaining a safe distance. They introduced Alibaba Cloud Pin, which also becomes a name tagging device and a social device.
When two remote user devices are touched, users’ contact information is automatically exchanged. The two users will be able to exchange daily updates, compare step count, among other social features.
Users could also customize their Cloud Pin to include different artwork, etc., to turn it into their own unique identification device.
Chris Tung, the CMO of Alibaba Group, believes that cloud technology will play an important role in the upcoming Olympics, to create a fair playing field through technology and a better experience for broadcasters, partners , fans and athletes. And they will be able to continue to support the digital transformation journey of the Olympics, having signed a 12-year partnership with the International Olympic Committee in 2017.
- For more information on Alibaba Cloud, click here.
- Read what we’ve written about Alibaba Group in the past here.
Featured Image Credit: International Olympic Committee (IOC) / Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS)