As interesting as the opening ceremonies and actual competitive events of the Olympics themselves are, there is an extreme amount of technology that makes these games and performances as top notch as possible.
TheBlaze has picked out just a few of these technologies, techniques and other quirky tricks used at the Olympics, for the logistics themselves, the athletes and for viewers.
- The Best Way to Watch: Although you’ll be able to live stream the Olympics this year over the Internet (NBCOlympics.com) and on smartphones, televisions will probably still be used most often. There are techie ways to optimize your viewing experience. For example, this year the Olympics can come to you in 3D — the next best thing to being there. If you are fortunate enough to already have a specialized TV, some cable and satellite channels will actually be broadcasting the games in 3D. Learn more about 3D TV viewership of the Olympics here.
- The Audio: You may not think about it, but it takes some seriously high-tech microphones and a lot of sound experts to pick up on all the grunts and splashes at the games. The Atlantic (via Gizmodo) reported that BBC will be unleashing 350 mixers, 600 sound technicians, and 4,000 microphones to capture all the nuances of how the sports sound. Here’s an example of the work that goes into it:
”You can really separate the ‘above’ sounds in the swimming hall and the ‘below’ sounds, the underwater sound. It really conveys the sense of focus and the sense of isolation of the athlete,” [audio engineer Dennis] Baxter continues. “We have microphones on the handrails as the divers walk up. You can hear their hands. You can hear their feet. You can hear them breathing.”
Then, as they reach the water, a producer remixes the audio track to pull from the underwater hydrophone at the bottom of the pool. Now, you are literally pulling audio from in the pool. “You can hear the bubbles. You get the complete sense of isolation, of the athlete all alone,” Baxter concluded.
- The Robot Cameras: For all the images you’ve already seen and those that are yet to come, robotic cameras may have been the ones doing all the work. Watch this AP report (via Gizmodo) on the cameras it will be using to “bring you the most competitive and historic images”:
- The Clothes: The athletes have done all they can to prepare their bodies and minds for the physical and mental rigor of competition, but the clothes they wear could mean the difference between winning gold and being a split second behind. The Arizona Republic recently pointed out some of these technologies. Nike’s full body track suits are an example. Made from recycled polyester and plastic bottles, the suits are designed to reduce drag and could even make a runner 0.023 seconds faster. The tech allowed in swim suits this year is a bit more restrictive. They can no longer include water-repelling polyurethane and full-body suits are not allowed, meaning they must stop at the knee. Overall, The Republic points out compression clothing as increasingly popular for its ability to facilitate blood flow.
- The Apps: With so much coverage of the Olympics, it can get overwhelming to know where and when you’re favorite events will be on TV. The BuddyTV Guide app can quickly give you times and channel number and provide real-time updates with suggestions of what you should be tuning as the Games are happening. The app touts itself as helping you find content faster on your TV than other apps, or your cable channel’s scrolling guide. The app is free for Android and iOS. But, since you probably won’t be glued to your TV at all times, you can also stay abreast of the results with the London 2012 Results App. As Gizmodo explained it, the app provides live updates, game schedules, results, photos and other details for all the events. Beyond that, the 2012 games also have a “Join In” app, which lets users stay in touch about the Olympics no matter where they are. There is also a “Games” app that actually lets you try your hand — digitally — at some of the events. Find all three of these apps here.
- The Oddest Piece of Equipment to Ship: The pole for vaulters is 17 feet long. Given that it’ll be supporting the whole of the Olympian’s weight as they fling themselves into the air, it’s not something that can be broken down into pieces and put back together for ease of shipment. How does it get there? The New York Times reported some larger, mainstream planes accept the poles as checked baggage, while others do not. If they do get on the plane, the cost ranges between $50 to $250. We also can’t forget having to strap poles to a vehicle after they’ve made it via air to their final destination. The Times reported one pole vaulter calling transport of the poles “the absolute worst part of this whole thing.”
- The Most Natural, Non-Techie But Still Cool Technique: You may see Olympic gymnasts dust their hands with a white powder before taking the the bars, but there’s more of a trick to how they “stick” onto them. It involves honey, molasses and Lyle’s Golden Syrup. According to the Wall Street Journal, slathering these sweet substances on their hands and on the bars is perfectly legal too. It also points out that getting chalk on the mat in some cases can result in point deductions, so finding other ways to make the chalk stick is advantageous. Learn more about this technique here or watch an Olympian show how to “honey it up” in this video:
You can’t get away with talking about the Olympics and technology without mentioning Oscar Pistorius, a South African runner who is the first double amputee to compete in the games. Some have wondered if his “blades” — the running prosthetics he wears on his legs — would give him an advantage, as they’re perfectly formed to work as well as possible for his needs.
The Huffington Post reported that a committee first ruled Pistorius would not be allowed to compete due to the spring his artificial legs could give him. It was also argued the blades may allow his body to consume energy in a more efficient manner, potentially giving him an advantage. Biophysicist Hugh Herr, who invented Pistorius’ blades, conducted a review and helped overturn that initial ruling.
Read more details about Herr’s review of how the blades influence Pistorius’ performance here.