Olympic Technology

Did you know that when they run track at this Olympics, that for the first time all runners will hear the gun at the same time. Before this because of the way sound travels the racer on the far side of the track from the starter pistol always heard the sound a millisecond after the racer near the starter pistol. This may not seem like a lot, but it could be the difference between a Gold and a Bronze medal. In these Olympics there will be a sound speaker behind each starter block so all runners will hear the sound at the same time. Each start block will have a pressure pad in it, if any runner releases the pressure faster than one-tenth of a second after the pistol is fired, it will be considered a false start. The finish will be measured by an Omega Quantum Timer which is accurate to a thousands of a second. Some racers will wear a suit made by Nike called the Pro Turbo Speed that has dimples in it like a golf ball which will cut down on wind resistance. There is some controversy over these suits, because some say they give an unfair advantage to those who can afford them. Their supporters simply say that they are just using the technology that is available to them.

Track isn’t the only sports where technology is playing a role in these Olympics.  Taekwondo contestants will be wear cloths and pads with sensors in them, so that every hit will be counted.

Not all the technology that is being used is for the athletes,  some is so that the spectators can see the events better. One example of this is synchronized swimming. Synchronize swimming has been traditional hard to film, because part of the action is below water and part above. Water reflex lights differently then air which makes syncing shots from above and below water very difficult. Historically it had required a lot of post work. NHK a Japanese company has created Twinscam, which combines images from two lens one above and one below water. This creates an almost flawless image of the swimmer.

So as you are watching the Olympics, remember that technology is not only being used to show you the games, but to allow the athletes to be swifter, higher, stronger.