Intel has today (Wednesday) detailed how it plans elevate technology usage at the Olympic Games through the use of facial recognition tech and virtual reality at next year’s event in Tokyo, Japan.

The US technology giant signed up as top-tier partner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in June 2017 and Tokyo 2020 represents its second Olympic Games in the role following last year’s Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

At an event in the Japanese capital, Intel said it will join forces with the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and a broad array of partners to drive the future of the Olympic Games with groundbreaking technology. “Intel is focused on delivering world-class technology integrations at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to improve the experience for athletes, attendees, viewers and Games staff while also demonstrating how technology can transform businesses,” said Rick Echevarria, general manager of Intel’s Olympics Program.

“The Winter Games in PyeongChang represented our first collaboration with the IOC and we look forward to extending and deepening that relationship in the years ahead.”

Intel will showcase technology in three focus areas at Tokyo 2020 – Compute, Connect and Experience. Under the first area, Intel unveiled 3D Athlete Tracking, a first-of-its-kind computer vision solution using artificial intelligence to enhance the viewing experience for Olympic fans with near real-time insights and overlay visualisations during athletic events.

Developed by Intel and hosted on Intel-based data centres in Alibaba’s cloud infrastructure, 3DAT, in partnership with Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS), uses four cameras to capture the form and motion of athletes, then apply pose estimation algorithms to analyse the biomechanics of their movements. The system transforms that data into broadcast overlay visualisations available during replays of the 100m and other sprinting events.

The IOC and Intel are collaborating to define and implement solutions that combine their experience to support the local organising committee becoming operationally ready. VR training will be utilised to create an immersive learning experience for key managers at competition venues.

Under the ‘Experience’ banner, NEC Facial Recognition will provide a large-scale facial recognition system, NeoFace, for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The facial recognition technology will be used to identify over 300,000 people at the Games, including athletes, volunteers, media and other staff for entry points of venues and accommodation. Intel said the benefits of this tech will include helping prevent risks related to identification fraud and reducing long wait times for ID checks.

Intel powered the largest scale virtual reality event to date at PyeongChang 2018 and the first-ever live virtual reality broadcast of the Olympic Games using Intel True VR. Intel said this will be stepped up at Tokyo 2020, with Intel True VR to be deployed in a range of sports and venues and content distributed by rights-holding broadcasters, including the opening and closing ceremonies, track and field, gymnastics, boxing and beach volleyball.

Through ‘Connect’, Intel said it is committed to making Tokyo 2020 the most innovative Olympics in history through 5G technologies and infrastructure platforms that will pave the way to develop gigabit connectivity, new mobility solutions, more immersive viewership experiences, cutting-edge smart city applications and advanced broadcasting services.

“After a very successful PyeongChang 2018, we’re excited to partner with Intel once again to bring the next era of technology to Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” said Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC Television and Marketing Services. “Our extended collaboration with Intel allows us to provide the best experiences and technology to all Olympic fans who attend our events and those viewing in from around the world.”