First Augmented Reality Olympics Impresses Spectators


2 min read
17 Aug
17Aug

PUBLISHED BYRory Greener 


Behind the First AR Olympics

Despite being sidelined due to Covid-19, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Summer Games kicked off with a bang and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has stayed true to its augmented reality (AR) initiative.The initiative has fuelled AR-enhanced broadcasting as well as introduced automated transport around the Olympic Village and opened the event with an Intel-powered drone light show.The news follows an announcement from the IOC last month, which revealed US news channel NBC would provide AR graphics, developed by US live production experts Ross Video, for the Games.Additionally, the IOC is working with Japanese telecom firm Docomo to provide selected spectators with Microsoft Hololens 2 mixed reality (MR) headsets.From July 25 to 27, front row attendees of swimming races at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre were provided with Hololens 2 devices using 5G technology to transmit race information in real time.Olympic broadcast crews will also provide additional MR devices to fans for a second round of swimming taking place August 27 to 29.

WebAR Applications from Facebook and USA Today

The developments come as companies Facebook and USA Today have been working on WebAR experiences for spectators watching the Games at home.According to the IOC, this year’s event aims to be “more youthful and more urban” by introducing new sports to the games such as karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, baseball, and surfing.Additionally, the delayed event is running the ‘Tokyo 2020 5G Project’ an technology innovation initiative that improves the event for staff, fans, and athletes.Through social media apps Instagram and Whatsapp, Facebook is also connecting fans with its array of social media platforms.Using Instagram’s AR functionalities, fans watching the event at home can interact with the official Miraitowa mascot and earn virtual medals for their AR performances.Additionally, Whatsapp developers are using new business application programme interface (API) features to create an Olympic chatbot to update users with the latest event news and medal standings.Official Olympic broadcasters USA Today released an AR smartphone application allowing this year’s athletic stars to guide users through immersive content.In one experience, US Professional Skateboarder Tom Schaar gives a full tour of the Games’ skateboarding course and shows off AR visualisations to demonstrate a collection of tricks.Schaar also joins Krya Condie, Team USA’s Olympic Climber, for a second narrated experience which guides users through Olympic-grade climbing along with 3D visualisations of Condie scaling a climbing wall. 


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