As the Rio Olympics have come to a close, it's interesting to reflect on the role of technology in the greatest sports event of the world.
Just a brief look at the numbers, 17 days, 32 competition venues, 42 different sports, 306 gold medals, 11,000 athletes, 140,000 support staff (local and remote)/volunteers.
It is hard to describe the performance and artistry of athletes like Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Usain Bolt, and all the other athletes who participated at Rio. The preparation, focus, commitment, and execution is beyond words. The word "awesome," is used a lot in conversation but they are the most deserving of it. However, what may not be obvious about both the athletes and the events is that science and technology also play a critical role in their success.
New technologies like 3D Printing and Body Scanning, as well as new use cases for existing technologies, eg GPS, Underwater lap counters to motion tracking wearables show that the need to sense, process, store, display, and analyze data is infinite. Payment wearables for both athletes and visitors at over 4,000 point-of-sale terminals, plus all email, mobile, social media and walkie-talky traffic required sizable IT infrastructure to support them.
Using 3D printed mounting sensors, eg on swimmers, every major joint can be tracked from wrists, elbow, shoulder to neck, hips, knees, ankles and toes. This can be done both in real time as well as after the event, coaches and athletes can work together to analyze the data and adapt. They will be able to compare themselves using hard data to their competitors.The next generation of athletes will not only be able to enhance their performance but break new Olympic and world records. Even spectators can more engaged with the teams and athletes they are fans of, by being able to view certain performance data through second-screen applications.
From a security perspective, the use of surveillance balloons, high resolution satellite earth imagery, video and image curation/analysis, intrusion detection, along with select virtual reality programming of events created a plethora of use cases of technology at Rio. An IT perspective on all this hi-tech wizardry reveals that we still rely on basic Systems, like servers, networks, storage and software. However, there is an interesting shift taking place. In the London 2012 Olympics, the Atos IT Operations Center used 719 servers. To reduce the carbon footprint and for other benefits including scalability and flexibility, by moving to the Cloud, Rio only required 250 servers, along with virtualization technologies.
Although we bid farewell to Rio and will greet Tokyo in 2020, the need to collect, distribute and share big data will continue unabated. Just as great athletes fine-tune their performance, so is the need to fine-tune data processing. Engineered Systems from Oracle are eg optimized in both hardware and software to process large database transactions and offer cloud services. Designed for performance, Oracle's Engineered Systems support x86 and SPARC architectures and a variety of workloads such as Oracle Linux, Windows and Oracle Solaris that offer low latency I/O and high throughput. Along with Sever Virtualization, cloud technologies will continue to be the wave of the future.