Game changer: The first Olympic games in the cloud

Held at an unprecedented time due to the coronavirus epidemic, the 2020 Summer Olympics (known as the Tokyo 2020 held in 2021, and officially called the XXXII Olympiad Games) will be remembered not only for the exceptional performance of athletes, but also for. One of the most technically advanced games ever hosted.

Cloud technology was first used in the Olympics and as a technologist, I am thrilled to see Cloud Technology play a key role in advancing the digital transformation of the Games. Cloud infrastructure has enabled innovative technology applications, so the Games can successfully overcome many of the barriers posed by the epidemic while laying a new foundation for how the Olympic Games – and other major sporting events will be broadcast, organized and connected. Fans of the future. Needless to say, we are already excited for the opportunities that cloud technology will unlock in future Olympiads.

The biggest technological change since satellite transmission

By the example of how cloud technology revolutionized Tokyo 2020, we need one of the most important components – the global broadcasting community that serves millions of viewers. Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) produced more than 9,500 hours of content during the Games, 30% more than in Rio 2016, and for the first time in 8K with some content. In Tokyo this year, when no viewers were allowed on the site, the role of broadcasters became more necessary for games and global fans.

By collaborating with OBS to support service delivery for rights-holding broadcasters (RHBs), for the first time, a robust and secure cloud platform called OBS Cloud is offering new models for content delivery to drive operational efficiency and greater agility. Fully operating in the cloud and demonstrating the tremendous flexibility that technology offers, OBS Cloud is designed to bring real change to the media industry and prepare it for all the opportunities presented by the digital age.

With epidemic fans participating in the games, it was imperative that broadcasters globally have access to high quality content that could be shared across multiple platforms to help share the feel of the play and the games. For that, during Tokyo 2020, about 9,000 short form content clips were created by OBS Content + Crew to help increase RHB coverage. Clips can be accessed by RHBs’ digital and social media teams from anywhere in the world to complement their own Olympic coverage. The technology enabled broadcasters to cover games from anywhere in the world in a more cost-effective, secure and flexible way, ensuring a steady and steady flow of broadcast content throughout the Games, leaving millions of fans hungry. For a piece of action!

It’s easy to understand why this broadcast development excites OBS chief executive officer Yiannis Exarchos. According to him, the partnership with Alibaba Cloud has brought the broadcasting of the Olympic Games to as wide an audience as possible. He “reflected to be the biggest technological change in the broadcasting industry for more than half a century since the introduction of satellite transmission.” This is a significant milestone since the first satellite transmission was introduced for Olympic broadcast coverage in 1964.

Also used as part of the post-production workflow, OBS used the Content + platform for remote editing and standards conversion, which will be expanded as a service to RHBs for future Olympics.

Protected by the cloud – make sure staff are safe

Of course, event organizers and executive staff are central to the delivery of the games, and Tokyo 2020 presents its own challenges for them due to the extreme heat of summer. To illustrate the dangers faced by sports workers, more than 8,000 people were taken to hospitals in Japan suffering from heatstroke symptoms between July 19 and 25 this year, while Tokyo 2020 officially began on July 23.

I believe technology can help respond effectively to complex situations like this. That’s why we introduced a cloud-based solution to help reduce the risk of heatstroke for onsite working staff exposed to the weather. Through intelligent in-ear devices, the technology helped keep track of employees’ body temperature and heart rate. Based on this information and the surrounding heat index (including temperature, humidity, and direct or bright sunlight), the cloud-based system identified the level of heatstroke risk in real time. Warnings were then sent to employees exposed to high levels of risk with recommended precautionary measures – such as drinking more water – to reduce the likelihood of heatstroke.

The innovation was achieved by Hidemasa Nakamura, chief of the Tokyo Organizing Committee’s main operations center for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG). Perhaps more importantly, it was well received by the Games workers; As it turned out, Tokyo 2020 was reported to be one of the hottest Olympic Games in history.

Ongoing engagement with fans

Sadly, the epidemic prevented global fans from attending the games. But technology can always play a positive role in meeting challenges. Last year, we spent significant time working with TOCOG on a digital remote fan engagement program called “Share the Passion.” Using cloud and digital editing technology, this fantastic project encourages game fans globally to support their favorite teams and athletes on a more personal level, wherever they are fan or team based. He took advantage of AI-powered technology to collect real-time videos uploaded by fans on social media platforms and broadcast them to venues to cheer, support and inspire athletes. You can imagine the excitement that this innovative solution provides, while the high-, raja, fills the field with the excitement of the audience while displaying positive vibrations among fans and athletes.

The connection is irreplaceable, and is one of the best examples of the connection between Olympic sports fans and athletes, different pay generations and cross-border sports communities. Keeping this value in mind, we have created our first cloud PIN, a cloud-based digital PIN designed for broadcast and media professionals who are constantly working to cover games for all of us. The wearable digital device enables contact-free exchange of information, and is designed to help media professionals working in the International Broadcasting Center and the main press center connect with each other and exchange social media handles securely and interactively. Either worn as a badge or attached to the balcony, it marries a convention of swapping contact details with real-time, cloud-based convenience.

Other exciting initiatives further encouraged fan and audience participation. For example, the IOC launched the Olympic Store on Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Tmall. In addition to being a global store for fans to get official Olympic-branded goods, it also acts as an information portal to help fans stay up to date with all the latest Olympic news and information. It is a place where retail and commerce merge to give sports fans more pleasure, while taking sports into a new era of fan participation.

The full potential of the athletes is being missed

Other beneficiaries of cloud technology – and many would say the most important – were the athletes themselves through a technology called 3D Athlete Tracking (3DAT).

In collaboration with Intel, 3DAT gives audiences a professional understanding of athletes’ performance. Without the need for motion-tracking sensors, 3DAT takes advantage of standard video, AI and computer vision to extract more than 20 points in 3D on an athlete’s body, converting that data into rich visualization to enhance the storytelling of broadcasters for major events.

Looking forward to more exciting game experiences

During our first Summer Olympics, we are pleased to take our sponsorship role to a new level that goes beyond the traditional commercial package. As an exclusive global partner for cloud services, we are honored to provide a new cloud-based foundation for how games are transmitted and managed. Likewise, we believe that the cloud will play a key role in reshaping the experience of how major sporting events will be broadcast, planned and shared with fans in the future. We are proud of the role we have played in reshaping the game and broadcast industry in an unprecedented way with Tokyo 2020. And we don’t stop there; Tokyo 2020 was just the beginning of the digitization journey of the Olympic Games.

This content was created by Alibaba Cloud. It was not written by the editorial staff of MIT Technology Review.

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