Fan-free Olympics showcase socially distant tech


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

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.

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