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Incredibly Long Fiber Network for Sportsnet

A Guide to the Cool Technology of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games

When have this many hours of high-definition video being pumped through over the course of the 17-day Olympic Games, you need to make sure that you have a suitable infrastructure in place. The crazy kooks at Sportsnet handled this by setting up their own data center in Vancouver, storing terabyte upon terabyte of video content.

But what about all the video feeds that are coming in from the Richmond Olympic Oval, Cypress Mountain, and the Whistler venues? How can you pump it through fast enough from that kind of distance? Fiber optics, that’s how.

A Guide to the Cool Technology of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games

In fact, Sportsnet established a fiber network that spans from Vancouver to Whistler, covering well over 100km along the way. By doing so, they are able to feed you with plenty of high-definition video highlights straight to your computer. Can’t catch the live feed on TV? Watch it on the ‘net instead.

Skate-Mounted Transponder in Speed Skating

When fractions of a second mean the difference between a gold medal and coming in dead last, you need an incredible level of accuracy and precision. The way that they do this for speed skating is with a special athlete tracking system.

A Guide to the Cool Technology of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games

Buried in the ice is a simple antenna and this is connected to a transponder detector, which is in turn connected to a computer. The athletes then wear a small transponder (just a few grams, less than 3cm square) on their ankles, secured in place with a neoprene strap.

Whereas summer running events are based on any part of the body crossing the finish line with the photo finish, this transponder system relies solely on the ankle. That’s why you’ll notice speed skaters lurch their foot forward when they get to the finish line.

The system then calculates their time with accuracy down to 1/1000th of a second and the information is sent instantly to scoreboards.

Taking the Olympic Games on the Go

So, you’re not close to a television or a computer? You can still stay on top of all the latest results thanks to the range of mobile sites and smartphone applications available out there.

A Guide to the Cool Technology of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games

For Canadians, there is 2010Guide, the official Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games App from Bell Mobility. Available for the iPhone, this location-aware app is a free download and it can give you turn-by-turn directions to the venues and events. You can also see real-time news, photos, and Twitter streams.

Similarly, you can download the CTVOlympics.ca iPhone app (which is also accessible as a mobile site on m.ctyolympics.ca) to get all the latest results, news, medal standings, and more.

Welcome to the Tech-Savvy Olympics

Vancouver is known for a lot of things. It has great restaurants and fantastic green space, but now you can see some of the great tech involved in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. This was just the tip of the iceberg too.

Go Canada Go!

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