Intel and Alibaba join forces for Olympic tech innovation

Technology giants Alibaba and Intel, top-tier partners of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), have agreed a strategic memorandum of understanding (MoU) designed to drive innovation at the next two editions of the Olympic Games.

The Chinese and US companies will work closely on technology solutions in a variety of areas, including 3D Athlete Tracking (3DAT) for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo; and 360 8K virtual reality (VR), 3D digital twinning and cloud broadcasting for both Tokyo 2020 and the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

Intel will support these innovation areas through high-performance processors and artificial intelligence (AI) technology platforms. The Alibaba Cloud division of Alibaba will bring its cloud infrastructure and services expertise to the MoU.

In addition to these key technology areas, Intel and Alibaba Cloud will also work closely on other areas that translate leading technologies into better immersive viewing experiences and a more efficient and flexible Olympics broadcasting model; that support smarter athlete training and smart broadcasting experiences; and that serve the Olympic Movement and enable a more innovative Olympic Games experience.

Intel has been working with Alibaba Cloud on projects for Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 for a number of months, but the two parties said the MoU signals their intent to commercialise and scale these solutions together using the Olympics as a showcase for their tech.

The 3D digital twinning solution based on 3D digital twinning modelling combines information about smart stadium applications like real-world internet of things (IoT) with a digital twinning virtual world.

This provides VR-based smart management methods to sports event managers and stadium operators, leveraging 3D digital twinning model and cloud rendering technology to develop track simulation, camera deployment simulation, seat viewing angle simulation, in-stadium navigation service and others. Intel and Alibaba said this makes it possible for athletes, broadcasters, spectators and venue owners to access 3D twinning-based services through 5G.

The 3DAT solution for Tokyo 2020 adopts deep learning algorithms and analyses and extracts data and forms of athletes in training or competition in real time with standard cameras for the development of training or broadcasting applications. In broadcasting, athletes’ performance data and form will be able to be overlapped on broadcasting images for what the two parties say will be “unprecedented” smart-viewing experiences.

Meanwhile, 360 8K VR is an end-to-end immersive broadcasting solution that provides 360-degree VR video experiences to audiences with 8K definition quality. Intel and Alibaba said it will be an efficient application in the 5G environment, with the solution eliminating dizziness for VR headset users and increasing bandwidth efficiency by more than five times.

The partnership with Alibaba marks Intel’s latest commitment to tech innovation at the Olympics. Earlier this month, Intel detailed how it plans to 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.

Commenting on the Alibaba MoU, Rick Echevarria, general manager of Intel’s Olympics Program, said: “The Olympic motto – Faster, Higher, Stronger – is highly in line with Intel’s innovation DNA. As a worldwide TOP Olympic Partner, Intel is committed to help bring innovative technologies including AI, 5G and VR into the Olympic Games and demonstrate how technology changes the future of the Olympic Games and is relevant to consumers and businesses beyond the Games.

“Intel and Alibaba Cloud are long-term partners and have a common vision of translating technology into amazing experiences that excite athletes, spectators, broadcasters, media, stadium operators, hosting countries and the International Olympic Committee, enabling a more innovative Olympic Games experience.”

Image: IOC