,Drones performing above the stadium during the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, on July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. — AP
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The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games were meant to be the perfect stage for Japanese and other tech firms to showcase their latest technologies to the world. A year late and without fans allowed in due to the pandemic, the show has lost much of that luster, but some undeterred companies are making a push to turn the experience of navigating the Covid challenge into a legacy for the games.
An enormous, 55-meter wide (180-foot wide) display floats in Sagami Bay, with the majestic Mount Fuji as its background. It provides a real-time video feed of Olympic sailing races, replacing what would have been a 3,000-spectator event requiring binoculars. Without access to the public, it’s now serving as the primary monitor for officials to see the competition and athletes and families to cheer on the competitors. In a collaboration between Intel Corp, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp and NTT Docomo Inc, the screen gets its video from 4K cameras mounted on drones beaming down 5G wireless signals.
Shingo Kinoshita, who led the development of the giant screen at NTT’s laboratory, also developed a holographic system for projecting live badminton games in three dimensions at a venue miles away from the action. The system would have given the remote audience a sense of watching the contest in person, but the plan was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Kinoshita believes, even while his novel systems didn’t get their proper showcase, that the Olympics were still key in giving him the opportunity and funding to work on such projects. The remote streaming and holographic technologies may yet be used at public events, such as to project audiences into a performance space like a concert or to let fans worldwide to enjoy an event at the same time.
The Tokyo Organising Committee said it wants to create the “most innovative games in history” through its adoption of top-class technology in venue maintenance and event management. That’s required a multiyear, multilateral collaboration. In 2017, the Innovation Promotion Office was set up and has been working with NTT, Panasonic Corp, Intel, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Toyota Motor Corp and others to explore new ways of showing sports.
Keiichi Koshiba, director of audio and video planning for the venture, said the Olympics created a space to accumulate and share knowledge and technology across various companies, which he deemed of great value and something that may be turned into a legacy of the games.More than 1,800 drones form the shape of a globe during the opening ceremony at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, on July 23, 2021, in Tokyo. — AP