The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are well underway. The US has already medaled in several events for a total of 5 as of this writing. This is two behind the Netherlands and Norway, who each have 7 so far.
Aside from all the medals being won, there is a lot of technology going on behind the scenes at these Olympic games. Many of us may remember the swim suit that led to several world record breaking performances in 2008. This was the LZR Racer manufactured by Speedo. This suit was banned from use by FINA (the international governing body of swimming) in 2009.
New Speedskating Suit
This year the U.S. Speedskating team is pushing the boundaries again. This time with a new suit developed by a joint venture between Under Armour and Lockheed Martin. The result of this venture is the Under Armour Mach 39 Speedskating Skin. According to Kevin Haley, senior vice president of innovation at Under Armour:
“By partnering with Lockheed Martin we brought in an organization with 60,000 engineers. Although we don’t need all 60,000, they have the right experts to do modeling and fluid dynamics off motion-capture filming. There is a level of expertise and brain power that has never been dedicated to a uniform before.” (Sports Illustrated)
There has also been a lot of talk surrounding the security of these Olympic games, and the technology being employed to ensure a safe event has never been more powerful. According to The Guardian a team of Russian investigative journalists found that, “Russia’s powerful FSB security service plans to ensure that no communication by competitors or spectators goes unmonitored during the event”.
Not only is the Russian government going to be monitoring every piece of communication during the games, but they are also employing systems to monitor that traffic automatically by tracking keywords, “deep packet inspection, which allows intelligence agencies to filter users by particular keywords, is being installed across Russia’s networks”. (The Guardian)
Live TV Drone Footage
Often, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones have a bad reputation for being used in a military setting. However at the Sochi Winter Olympics there is drone technology being used for a much less sinister purpose. This year, for the first time, we’re getting live TV footage from the Olympic slopes from a camera drone.
These drones use multiple rotors, and look a bit like a flying spyder. They are much less expensive to operate than more traditional helicopters, and they can capture footage helicopters can’t because they can get closer to the action. Some people have raised concerns over whether these drones are safe to fly near people according to this AP article on Fox
“chances of drone crashes are close to zero when a drone is handled by an experienced pilot, because the drones are programmed to return to base at the slightest problem — such as a low battery, rough winds or a malfunction.”
From new skating skin, to surveillance technology, to new ways of capturing the action for TV audiences, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are full of the latest technology.