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Nine technologies making their Olympics debut in Rio

From security blimps to underwater lap counters, the Rio Games are utilizing tons of state-of-the-art technology.

Read about the latest sports tech news, innovations, ideas and products that impact players, fans and the sports industry at

This year’s Olympics have featured no shortage of advanced technology. The ability to bring fans even closer to the action is making the Rio Games unique and personalized, something we all crave. 

1. Google Street View Tours of the venues

Rio-employees give us a first-person tour as they walked through each and every venue mapping out the visual details for all to see. You can now imagine yourself ground level with some of the Olympic greats as they compete.

2. Underwater lap counters

Going the length of the pool up to 30 times can be tough to keep track of, even for elite athletes. Knowing how many lengths are left in an event like the Men’s 1,500 freestyle is important in completing the race and knowing your finish.

In order to help out the swimmers, Rio is using underwater LED lap counters from Omega in the middle of each lane.

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3. Virtual Reality

The NBC Sports app and Samsung Gear VR headset are bringing virtual reality broadcasting to the Games, specifically events such as basketball, gymnastics, boxing and diving.

4. High resolution video

Although it may only be available on Tokyo NHK, super high-vision or 8K (which has 16 times as many pixels as regular HD) will be live in broadcasting centers around Tokyo. But let’s be honest, are we even ready for cupping in this clarity?

5. Security blimps

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Maximum security. Well, at least from four blimps.

This might sound like a laughing matter, but these blimps equipped with high-resolution camers cameras will monitor the security for the Games. The devices will send images taken by the 13 cameras in real time, helping keeping fans and athletes safe.


6. NFC Payments

Visa and Brazilian bank Bradesco are pushing for new wearable tech, specifically, a bracelet equipped with Near Field Communications (NFC) technology for making payments at the Olympics. Nearly 3,000 journalists, officials and athletes are the guinea pigs for the waterproof bracelets.

7. X1 hi-tech coverage

Comcast is showcasing its X1 set-top box, which will give consumers the ability to search for live coverage and replays by country, athlete and sport.

The integrated voice search will make use of the box’s Internet connection and begin a search just by saying something simple such as, “How is the USA doing?”

8. Getty 360-degree photography

The Games’ official photography agency, Getty, is bringing 360-degree images to the Games. Since first experimenting with the technology in the 2012 London Olympics, Getty will supply every photographer with a 360-degree camera to capture the best photos.

9. Canoeing GPS

And finally, canoeing rows its way onto the big screen.

Through the years, canoeing has not drawn the largest crowds due to the slow pace and long distances, but the Olympic Committee’s decision to put GPS locators on the competitor’s boats is a step in the right direction.

Now fans can sit in the stands and watch the direction and speed of the competitors on the big screen.

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There are many other tech advancements involved in the 2016 Rio Olympics, but these are nine that we felt were worthy examples of innovation at this year’s Games.

So sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy all the action brought to you in so many different ways, just do not forget to wipe your buttery fingers off before grabbing your VR headset.