New Technologies that Debuted at the Rio Games


When it comes to cutting-edge technology, this summer’s Olympic Games didn’t fail to impress. The weird – and really wonderful – tech advancements and gadgets make you realize how many ways technology has changed sports over the years. As athletes pushed the boundaries of what is possible, viewers were able to see the action closer than ever before.

Need proof? Just take a look at these innovative technologies that saw the spotlight at the 2016 Rio Games.

Virtual reality streaming

This is the first year that the Olympic Broadcasting Services broadcasted images – in high-definition – of the opening and closing ceremonies in virtual reality. In addition, they showed one event per day and, in order to view it, you needed a Samsung VR headset.

You can also see Samsung’s film, titled Vanuatu Dreams, on YouTube without a headset. This follows beach volleyball players from the island of Vanuata in their bid for qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

GPS canoes

Those who enjoy rowing and canoe sprint could watch races in real time thanks to the help of GPS technology.  In addition, these devices showed audiences new information, such as the rowers’ directions and speed.

Laser-cut swimsuits

Swimmers dove into the water wearing the LZR Racer X Suit, Speedo’s new swimsuit. This suit features laser-cut straps to make the suit fit closer to the body than ever, and has seams shaped to better support the swimmers’ abdominal muscles. 

Perfectly-sized swim caps

Swimmers need a good swim cap for reduced resistance – the snug fit of a swim cap presses hair down to make it easier for swimmers to move effortlessly through the water. This year, we saw the Fatskin3 Cap, also by Speedo. It uses 3D head scans for the perfect fit, and the Fatskin3 Elite Goggles are streamlined for drag reduction.

Underwater lap counters

Rio 2016 used underwater lap counters developed by Omega to keep track of laps in the 800m and 1500m freestyle events. The underwater lap counters work when the swimmer hits a touchpad on the wall of the pool to update the digital counter. It allows athletes to focus on their performance because they see how much they have swam as soon as they turn around.

Custom spikes

Studded shoes have been around for years; yet there are none quite like these Nike custom spikes for runners that are made for each individual’s foot size and speed.  These trainers can help thrust runners forward. The irregular patterns in the shoe are inspired by and modeled after a honeycomb structure.

Sensors and laser scoring

One sport that received a smart scoring update was archery.  The classic paper target appears the same to the eye, yet officials now hide a sensor system that pinpoints the exact point of the arrow to less than 0.2mm. 

It’s amazing where technology has taken us – from playing live virtual tournaments online to chatting with friends across the country in real time.  The unveiling of these technologies and gadgets at the Rio Olympics was pretty spectacular. Technology is constantly evolving and changing the way viewers experience sports, and we witnessed that firsthand in the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

About the Author:

David Fournier has been a business analyst since 2010 and has also been involved in the launching of startup companies for over three years. He has been writing for small to mid-sized businesses, assisting them with their business needs.

Edited by Alicia Young

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