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July 29, 2016updated 28 Mar 2017 5:37pm

Olympic Tech is Ready

By John Oates

Technology will have a big role at the Rio Olympics from the very first moment visitors touch down at the airport. Passengers can make use of free, unlimited Wi-Fi, download a mobile app and get guided around the airport.

Rio Galeão-Tom Jobim International Airport usually serves about 17m passengers a year so dealing with the more than a million people expected during the weeks just before and after the Olympics will be a challenge.

The airport has created a guidance system with the help of HPE’s Aruba Networks which uses beacon technology to help passengers get around. The company has installed more than 3,000 Aruba beacons to ease and speed journeys around the airport.

Visitors will also be encouraged to download a mobile application. The app runs on Aruba’s Meridian platform, it will provide passengers with up-to-the-minute flight arrival and departure information, way finding and push data notifications which can include alerts as well as promotional and discount information from vendors.

The airport is also looking at how to use the application to speed up security, boarding and check-in times for passengers.

Looking forward Riogaleão will be using the network to integrate with Internet of Things sensors for air conditioning and lights as the airport expands. The final step will be integrating systems with arriving aircraft and downloading telemetry and other data as well as linking with onboard Wi-Fi networks.

Data collected from passengers will be analysed to shape and improve future services

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Beyond the airport Olympic officials are using a variety of new technologies to improve visitor experience and improve judging to make certain sports fairer.

Judges of the Taekwondo competitions will be helped by more than the traditional television replays. Fighters will wear magnetic socks which, when combined with sensors in chest and head guards will automatically score points when kicks are landed.

In fact athletes expect the new technology will do more than make fights fairer – it is already changing the way they train and compete.

With better systems to count strikes there is no need to show the beauty of kicks and punches and make sure the judges see them land. Instead athletes can pay attention to making more precise strikes – hitting the right spots – and less about the strength of those strikes.

Along with kitting out competitors Olympic officials have also added music systems to improve the experience for the audience – competitors now enter the stadium to their own ‘walk-in music’.

Rio will see a variety of other technical firsts – swimmers get underwater displays showing how many lengths they’ve completed for long distance events.

Spectators at the sprint canoeing and rowing events will have a clearer idea of how races are progressing thanks to GPS devices attached to the boats showing position and speed – officials say it will give crowds a much clearer understanding of the different team tactics during events.

One of the oldest sports at the Olympics – archery – is also getting a technology makeover. Targets will be electronically monitored and scoring done automatically. Crowds will get a better idea of the pressure athletes are under because special monitors will show real-time heart rates during the competition.

Wearable technology will also be showcased in Rio – visitors can use a bracelet from Visa which uses Near Field Communications to make purchases at all the Olympic venues.

There’s more from the Olympic organisers here:

https://www.rio2016.com/en/news/rio-2016-olympics-technological-innovations

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