New and Exciting Technology Set to Take Centre Stage at This Year’s Rio Olympic Games

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The Rio de Janiero 2016 Olympics looks set to provide not just stunning feats of athleticism, but also stunning new technology is set to be on display. The Olympic games provides an excellent opportunity to showcase new and emerging technologies, an opportunity in which global brands such as Visa and Samsung are making the most of.

Visa has been sponsoring the Olympic Games for the last 30 years now, and this year they are running the payment systems of the Olympics’ with a difference.  Visa have equipped about 4,000 payment terminals at many different Olympic sites, including concession sites, souvenir shops and much more, with a new wireless technology called near-field communication, or NFC for short. This is the technology that powers mobile-payment services such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, though only Samsung’s has launched in Brazil so far.

Additionally, Visa have given their new payment rings to 59 Olympic athletes to wear. With a simple tap on an NFC payment terminal, the athletes will be able to charge their Visa accounts. Giving the ring to Olympic athletes represents a great way to test the technology in extreme conditions; with swimmers such as Missy Franklin gracing the technology. Moreover, it is also a fantastic PR opportunity, as the athletes generate a buzz for the technology as they are seen wearing it and tweeting about it.

In addition to this, Samsung, another Olympic sponsor, have also been making the most of the opportunity to advertise at the globally-watched events. The tech-giant have created a special Olympic addition of their Galaxy S7 Edge to 12,500 of the competing Olympians. The phone is branded with the instantly recognisable Olympic rings, and features Olympics-themed wallpapers loaded onto the device. One wonderful feature of the special Olympic phone that Samsung expects to make a splash is the phones come with a flag app, which athletes will be encouraged to hold up as they walk together by country during Friday’s opening ceremonies.

“They can use the entire screen of the S7 to become a flag,” said Pio Schunker, Samsung’s global head of brand integrated marketing. “They will be waving the national flag through the S7.”

The company have also made 2,016 of the Olympic phones for the public to buy in selected countries, including Brazil, the U.S. and South Korea.

Along with all of this, viewers will be able to watch the Olympics in a way they never have before. American broadcasting channel NBC, who have the television and online rights to the Olympic Games coverage in the U.S., have planned 85 hours of VR coverage through the NBC Sports app on Samsung’s Gear VR headset, including coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies, men’s Basketball, Gymnastics and Track and Field events, some of the most watched events in the U.S.

Moreover, Getty images, the Olympics official photography agency, who shot some 360-degree images at the London Olympics in 2012 as the technology was emerging, have provided each of their photographers at this year’s Olympics with a 360 degree camera, as they try and push the technology.

“We are only on the cusp of what will be a tectonic plate shift in VR,” Getty CEO Dawn Airey said.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s Oculus VR business, which developed the technology behind Gear VR, plans to showcase more than 400 360-degree images from various photographers. It will be available through the Oculus 360 Photos app on Gear VR and Oculus’ own Rift headset.

We are looking forward to seeing what the rest of the Olympic Games have to offer in the coming weeks; with new and exciting technology taking centre stage, the Olympics is at the forefront of modern technical innovation.

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