Technology firms Alibaba Cloud and Intel have unveiled plans for joint work on broadcast-related technology at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
At Alibaba Cloud’s annual Apsara Conference in Hangzhou on Wednesday, the Chinese and American companies said they had agreed a ‘strategic memorandum of understanding’ under which they would be working on four pieces of technology for use by athletes, broadcasters, organisers and fans:
- 360-degree 8K VR, which will provide an immersive virtual reality video experience for fans, with 8K image definition quality, delivered over 5G mobile networks. Alibaba Cloud said the technology will eliminate dizziness for VR headset users and increase bandwidth efficiency by more than 5 times.
- 3D Digital Twinning, which will provide VR simulations of tracks, camera deployments, stadium seating and in-stadium navigation services, for use by athletes, broadcasters, spectators and venue owners.
- Cloud Broadcasting, which is being launched in partnership with the Olympics’ dedicated host broadcaster Olympic Broadcasting Services. Alibaba Cloud said the cloud broadcasting solution would “boost efficiencies lost through offline and labour-based production” and cut costs.
- 3D Athlete Tracking (‘3DAT’), a system using deep learning algorithms to analyse and extract data about athletes in training or competition, using standard cameras. The technology is said to be useful in training or broadcasting applications.
In a press release, Alibaba Cloud, a division of Chinese technology conglomerate Alibaba, said: “The strengthened partnership signals the companies’ commitment and readiness to commercialise, scale and launch these solutions ahead of the upcoming Games.”
Alibaba and Intel are both TOP partners of the Olympics, in the top tier of Olympics sponsorship.
Alibaba has been using the Olympics to showcase its technological prowess and build its brand outside China. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, it used its pavilion to showcase various innovations and a “vision for a future Olympic Games…run completely on the cloud”.
During a recent interview published on the IOC website, Alibaba’s chief marketing officer said: “The Olympic Games provides a very important platform to support our globalisation strategy…We see the partnership as a platform to showcase our innovations and technologies to the world through each edition of the Olympic Games. It’s also an opportunity to showcase how digital technology can make a difference in terms of engaging young consumers in today’s world.”
Tung said Alibaba sees its role as providing technology that levels the playing field between large and small businesses, allowing the latter to compete in the global marketplace. This chimed with the spirit of the Olympics, he said, where “Every athlete has a chance to compete and win and grow on this global stage”.
Announcing the latest MoU between Intel and Alibaba Cloud, the general manager of Intel’s Olympics Program, Rick Echeverria, 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 bringing innovative technologies including AI, 5G and VR into Olympic Games and demonstrating how technology changes the future of 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.”