Watch Closely – The Olympic Technology Boom
The impact of any Olympic event often stretches much further than many would anticipate. 1992’s Barcelona Games, for example, were responsible for the hiring of approximately 88% of the city’s unemployed population at the time. The infrastructure developed for the 2012 London Games, meanwhile, is estimated to have brought an additional 9 billion pounds sterling of new investment to the British economy.
However, another significant legacy of the Olympic Games is technological advancement. Sitting at a nexus of elite athletic competition, global broadcasting and communications, city infrastructure, political negotiation, and cultural transformation, Olympic events almost always develop into showcases of technological innovation as much as athletic performance. And, as with all things related to the Olympic Games, the impact can be significant.
Much of what is understood about modern sports broadcasting was developed around the aforementioned Barcelona Games and refined for streaming around the London Games. The 2000 Sydney Olympics were responsible for establishing Australia’s first large-scale urban water recycling scheme – it still saves the city over 850 million litres of water per year, nearly twenty years later. More recently, both Vancouver and PyeongChang Games have been praised for their innovations.
This means that the impending Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be of particular interest to brands and communicators, regardless of their proximity or connection to the event. Japan are is specifically striving to make Tokyo’s Olympics the “most innovative in history”. Furthermore, with both sustainability and equality identified as key priorities for Tokyo 2020, the broader applications and ramifications of the next Olympic technology boom will be substantial.
With major innovations in VR, facial recognition, mobility, and sustainability to be unveiled, any business likely to be impacted by or capable of leveraging these technologies should watch the next twelve months with interest. And, with additional initiatives around recycling (e.g. gold medals from reprocessed electronics) and accessibility (e.g. robots programmed to assist wheelchair users), professionals and brands from all different sectors may benefit from tuning into next year’s Games.