Olympics: so far, so good, so what?

Technology enhances our enjoyment of the Olympics

My editor's unhappy with me because I just filed this column rather late. I'm guilty as charged -- I had a chance to watch Roger Federer (upset in straight sets by American James Blake -- U-S-A! U-S-A!), Venus Williams (upset in straight sets by Chinese favorite Li Na -- Zhongguo Jia You! ["Go China" in Mandarin Chinese]), and Rafael Nadal, who is so the best tennis player in the world it's not even funny. All three played on the same night, on the same ticket and it was close enough to where I live that I took Beijing's new subway Line 10 home when it was over. So, sorry I'm late.

I didn't mean to lose focus. The Olympics is, after all, about technology, right? IT and all that stuff? Hardware, software? At least I think that's what it's all about. The Beijing Organizing Committee for the XXIX Olympics (BOCOG) said that this was a "High-tech Olympics," so I guess it must be. They also said it was going to be a "Green Olympics," although frankly Beijing always looks kind of gray.

OK, so, right -- technology. The other day I went to beach volleyball. All of the Olympic venues have security checks prior to entering the grounds, staffed by very earnest young volunteers. It's like the airport security in the United States, only more professional. You have to produce your ticket, which has an RFID (radio frequency identification) tag in it, and press it against a reader, which authenticates it. You then pass through a standard metal detector and screening, after which your ticket's bar code is scanned and then torn off. Look, technology at the Olympics! I guess that later on you could take the ticket apart and check out the RFID tag, but why would you want to ruin it? The tickets are nice, I'm going to keep them in a scrapbook as souvenirs.

Earlier Thursday when we were trying to get to the tennis venue, it was pouring rain. I pulled out the TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) 3G (third-generation) phone that the nice people at Samsung lent me to try out. I accessed the WOW (Wireless Olympic World) system's mInfo, which is supposed to have all kinds of information about the games. I looked at the map of the Olympic Green Tennis Center, only to discover that it's not part of the Olympic Green. The map didn't tell me, however, where it is. I tried to find it online using China Mobile's 2.5G mobile Internet service in conjunction with my 2G Apple iPhone. That didn't help much either. So I turned to a couple of the earnest young volunteers and asked. Their estimate of a 30-40 minute walk was too little by about 30-40 minutes, but we got there. Thanks, technology.

When we got to the tennis center, it was still raining, so I tried to get a weather update via mInfo. China Mobile's 3G system failed to connect repeatedly. I found a site with a forecast for official Olympics weather (in Chinese) with my iPhone, predicting the rain would stop after 6 p.m., which turned out to be spot on. When first Federer and then Venus Williams were upset (as was Serena on a different court), I let people know via text and Twitter. I thought my friends would like to know and share the news. I guess that's what technology is for, to help us share stuff.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Steven Schwankert

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?