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The Innovation Olympics: Sochi 2014

February 04, 2014

Every two years, the Olympics let the world witness the best and brightest athletes compete to see who is the best in their sport. However, Olympians aren’t the only ones showing off for these Winter Games. Techies have been brainstorming new ideas to make Sochi 2014 the most inventive Olympics in history. From video streaming to sports gear we thought these innovations were noteworthy.

Mach 39: New Speedskating Uniforms

Speed Skating Uniform

No, this wasn’t intended for The Matrix 4. Clothing brand Under Armour along with aerospace leader Lockheed Martin, presented a new unitard for the Team USA speedskaters. What makes this suit special is the fabric, which isn’t completely smooth. Kevin Haley, vice president for innovation at Under Armour, says wind tunnel tests showed it was faster to disrupt the air the way a golf ball is designed. "We're putting little bumps or dimples onto the suit to disrupt the air in just the right places."

But don’t worry; they went through the rule book over and over to make sure that this suit is 100% legal and within Olympic regulations.

LightRail Zipper

Light Rail Zipper

Look out for these bad boys on the jackets and gear worn by the US, Canadian and Russian teams during Sochi 2014. The new zippers are lighter, more flexible, and keep more moisture out than traditional waterproof zippers; and bonus: they almost completely disappear into the garment when zipped. Hopefully we’ll be seeing them in the consumer market soon!

Akamai Video Streaming

Akamai Technologies Inc. is a Cambridge-based provider of Internet and content delivery services. They said in a press release that they were chosen to provide streaming coverage for the Winter Olympics. Sochi 2014 is the first Winter Olympic Games where all competitions will be available for live streaming; so if you are too lazy to get out of bed on a Sunday afternoon you can access the races at NBCOlympics.com.

All 98 events will be included as well as each medal competition, event highlights and athlete interviews and profiles.

BMW Bobsled

BMW-designs -2014-US-Winter -Olympic -team -bobsleds

Instead of “the ultimate driving machine” we have the ultimate two-man bobsled for the United States Team. Race car driver Michael Scully teamed up with BMW to create the most innovative bobsled to date. With the sled clocking-in at around 275 pounds, Scully created it so that it is lower to the ground and narrowed out in the front to increase aerodynamics. He attached lead sheets to certain spots on the interior of the sled but kept these spots a secret so that the competition doesn’t get wind of his design.

You can watch and see these beamers in action on Feb 16th, 2013.

The Avaya Network

Everyone is obsessed with their Smartphone’s but one thing many people don’t think of is how Sochi is going to support tens of thousands of device-toting Olympic employees, volunteers, athletes, media, and others.

Avaya, an American telecommunications provider, will be powering the first Bring Your Own Device (BYOD, as all the cool people call it) Olympics. They will have 30 IT specialists on site to deliver technical support and the first “Fabric Enabled” network. This means that the Avaya network will be able to provide access to content anytime, anywhere and from any type of internet enabled device.

The team over at Avaya put together an awesome Case Study if you want more information.

GoPro’s and New Snowboarding Tricks

Go Pro

Everyone knows the reigning king of the half pipe, Shaun White or “The Flying Tomato.” He has been preparing hard for the Olympics and with the help of new GoPro technology it’s been easier than ever. White and his coach, Bud Keene, have been practicing an airbag half-pipe in a remote location in Australia. The GoPro’s are situated on a 22 foot wall near the action and capture White’s trajectory in real time.

Once a trick is over White and Keene can get an instant review from the technology and determine whether or not he would have landed on a real snow half pipe. "When we can see consistently that he's rehearsing the trick into the airbag and coming down into the pipe," Keene said, "we have a confidence level that he can come down in the pipe the same way." Our bet is on “The Flying Tomato” to win over the judges hearts yet again.

The Opening Ceremonies are February 6, 2014 in the sub-tropical Sochi, Russia. We’re looking forward to seeing more innovations that have been kept under wraps. And of course we're rooting for Team USA to bring home the Gold!

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