How technology is going to make the 2020 Olympics better, safer, and more exciting
The modern Olympics have been running for 116 years, but many events remain unsafeand difficult to score. We propose ideas that might help solve some of the toughest problems.
About 100 riders are injured in eventing falls every year, and when amultimillion-dollar horse goes down, even a minor injury like a twisted ankle can end its career. Computerized bases on the ground could project holographic obstacles, such as four-foot fencesand 15-foot-wide pools, in place of dangerous physical objects. Line-of-sight infrared beams could monitor the edges of the obstacles; if the horse breaks the beam, the system would instantlyalert the judges—and the crowd—to the fault.
SMART LANDING PADS
Scoring the exact length of a long or triple jump can be imprecise and time-consuming. Athletes land in a sand pit, wherethey make several marks; officials must locate the mark closest to the takeoff line before they can measure. Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a 2,016-pressure-sensor arrayto map where an athlete hits the ground. Placed underneath the sand in the landing pit, a dozen or so of the mats could record the exact point of touchdown, and a computer couldautomatically calculate the length of the jump.
Swimmers are often unaware of their standing in a race until it’s over. Goggles with an integrated head-up display could broadcast a liveview of the competition and help racers to better pace themselves. Waterproofed with an invisible layer of hydrophobic nanoparticles, a technique currently used on cellphones and othergadgets, a small computer tucked in the lower right-hand corner of the goggles would gather position information from other wired racers over Bluetooth and display it on a quarter-inch LCD.