Technology Goes for Gold at 2016 Summer Olympics

VR broadcasts, live streaming, wearable technology and an 8K experiment in Japan highlight the innovation in Rio.

Photos & Slideshow
View the slideshow View the slideshow

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio have for months been getting well-earned negative publicity for the health risks for participants and spectators of the worldwide celebration of athletic excellence.

But there will be no shortage of eye-popping and innovative technology broadcasting the Games, being used by the athletes, and at the venues by which they’re competing. From LED video walls to virtual reality programming to live streaming and more, technology will be everywhere during the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Leyard provided three Leyard TVH Series LED video walls for the NBC Olympics set within the International Broadcast Center in Rio and one Leyard TVH Series LED video wall for NBC’s outdoor set in Brazil.

PHOTOS: Technology at the 2016 Summer Olympics

The Leyard video walls a 13-foot wide by 13-foot tall video wall comprised of 169 displays and an 8-foot wide by 7-foot tall video wall made up of 56 displays, both with a 1.9mm pixel pitch for ultra-high resolution graphics and video playback.

NBC’s sets will also feature a 9-foot wide by 12-foot tall 2.5mm pixel pitch in-floor display made up of 108 displays.

Audio_Technica is providing microphones, broadcast headsets and monitor headphones for NBC’s Olympics coverage. Audio-Technica’s BP4027 and BP4029 stereo shotgun microphones will be mounted on cameras to closely follow the action; while AT4050ST large-diaphragm stereo microphones and BP4025 X/Y stereo microphones will capture ambience from the games’ various venues.

Meanwhile, announcers will wear BPHS1 broadcast stereo headsets in audio-over-IP venues to provide separation between their voices and the ambient sound; and reporters will use BP4001 handheld cardioid dynamic microphones for interviews.

Producers will use ATH-M50x professional monitor headphones in edit rooms, for monitoring RF mic receivers and submix consoles and for other applications.

Audio-Technica’s involvement with the Olympics is part of a long-standing relationship with NBC.

RTS is providing broadcast intercom systems and support for NBC’s production, including OMNEO, RVON, IP trunking ADAM intercom matrix and intercom panels.

Perhaps the most anticipated innovation for NBC’s Olympics coverage this year is the availability of 85 hours of coverage in virtual reality to Samsung smartphone owners through Gear VR and the NBC Sports app.

Fans can be virtually transported to iconic venues such as Maracana Stadium for an unprecedented view of the Opening Ceremony and Copacabana Beach for an immersive beach volleyball experience in the sport’s ultimate setting.

Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) will capture VR footage—including the Opening and Closing ceremonies, men’s basketball, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing and fencing as well as highlight packages of those sports—and provide it to NBC. All VR content will run on a delay from the day after the Opening Ceremony until Aug. 22, the day after the Olympics end.

Comcast plans to live-stream about 4,500 hours of video of every event of the Summer Olympics, from basketball and beach volleyball to javelin and judo, far exceeding the number of hours streamed during the 2012 event in London. The company also plans to broadcast some content in 4K on a one-day delay.

Also See: Cirque du Soleil Brings Avatar to Life With BlackTrax Technology

The Rio Games will feature 34 sports and up to 41 events happening simultaneously.

The Rio Olympics are the first Summer Games since Atlanta in 1996 to occur in or near a U.S. time zone, meaning NBC can broadcast more events live for an American audience. NBC has long faced criticism for airing prerecorded coverage long after an event has occurred, especially in the Pacific time zone.

Many athletes are likely to be wearing analytic bracelets and high-tech sports bras that give them information to improve their performances during training sessions.