It’s clear that the Olympic Games are the ultimate platform for competitors to showcase athleticism, determination, and drive. But at the 2016 Games, where 11,551 of the world’s best athletes are all competing for gold, how do they get an edge?
Well, in our modern, scientifically inclined age, innovative technology is one answer.
Traditional methods in visualization training don’t seem to cut it anymore when there’s a new tool in town. Virtual Reality (VR) enables athletes to compete long before the real battle begins. VR pioneer Joe Chen, for example, virtually mapped out Rio’s entire triathlon course, capturing it in 360 degrees for triathloner Gwen Jorgensen. Thanks to VR, Jorgensen could study the exact course she’d later compete on via headset, picturing herself on the tough turns and tricky descents without leaving the couch.
Buying a new pair of stylish sunglasses is certainly exciting for us non-Olympians. But world-class athletes are looking for more than just style from their sunglasses. New lenses from Solos have the ability to track the wearer’s heart rate, speed, power, pace, distance, and more via Bluetooth and a heads-up display. Solos and USA Cycling partnered for the 2016 Games, allowing athletes to use this innovative, high-tech smart eyewear for their rides.
Swimsuit companies are also pushing boundaries in the high-tech arena. While suits still aren’t able to take a swimmer’s heart rate (maybe in 2020?), Speedo presented the Fastskin LZR Racer X for the Rio Games. This suit has “one-way stretch technology” that enables more flexibility and better feel of the water. Plus, the “X” across the swimmers’ backsides gives them an extra dash of power. Although, with all the world records being broken in Rio, it hardly seems like they need the boost.
While getting the gold is important, an athlete’s health and recovery is also critical. To speed up the recovery process, the USA gymnastics team uses LumiWave, a chain of four black disks containing infrared LEDs that send pulses of light to a pained area of the body. These pulses prompt healing through the release of nitric oxide in the body, allowing cells to heal faster. So not even pain could stop Simone Biles from winning all those shiny medals.
With so many technological advancements in play during the 2016 Olympics, what innovative solutions could possibly be in store for future Olympics?