In this week's special, giant-sized Olympic edition of Healthy Tech, we look at some of the most interesting tech stories about the Games. In addition, you'll learn about Olympic-sized bandwidth issues affecting people here and in London, learn about some of the tech the athletes and officials use, and we even a list of gadgets that can help you show off your cultural pride.
1. Can Social Media Cause You to Lose An Olympic Event?
According to one athlete: yes.
Emily Seebohm, an Australian swimmer, set an Olympic record in qualifying for the 100m backstroke final, but missed out on gold.
She admitted afterwards that she was showered with so much congratulations and encouragement on social media sites, that it made her feel like victory was inevitable. Said Emily, "When they tell you a thousand times you are going to get it, somewhere in your mind you are just like, 'I've done it.'"
Of course, that clearly didn't keep her away from Twitter.
2. BMW Engineers Helped U.S. Track And Field Athletes Train Prior to Olympics
Before the Olympics, German automaker BMW had engineers in their Mountain View, CA office develop a number of technology solutions to help U.S. athletes improve their training skills and performance abilities.
For instance, they developed a camera system to capture a long jumper in motion and then calculate key statistics about their jump, including "horizontal approach velocity, vertical take-off velocity and take-off angle." That same system was originally used in determining, for instance, how vehicles detect obstacles, but was found to have multiple purposes.
The technology was a permanent tool at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA where the U.S. Track & Field team used it regularly.
3. L.A. Chief Technology Officer to City Employees — Stop Streaming!
Worried about the bandwidth issues, the Los Angeles chief technology officer asked city employees to stop watching the Olympic Games at City Hall as it was "impacting city operations."
One unidentified worker's response? "I don't know if people are actually going to obey that rule at work. I mean, this is the Olympics. This is a big deal"
4. Olympics Attendees Asking to Curb Heavy Data Use During The Games
Also concerned with bandwidth issues, and due to an overloaded network affecting television coverage, Olympic bosses actually asked Olympic attendees to avoid sending non-urgent text messages, tweets and more during events.
They certainly couldn't just outright ask fans for that. Instead, an International Olympics Committee spokesman had to meander around it: "Of course, if you want to send something, we are not going to say 'don't, you can't do it', and we would certainly never prevent people It's just, if it's not an urgent, urgent one, please kind of take it easy We don't want people to stop engaging in social media but we are asking to see if people can send by other means." In other words: pretty please, don't crash the network.
Many fans, of course, then vented their anger on Twitter.
5. Wired Profiles Omega's Chief Olympics Timekeeper During His Final Appearance
Wired's Adam Elder recently did a profile on Peter Hürzeler, Omega's chief Olympics timekeeper, who is currently making his 16th and final appearance at the games. He oversees 450 technicians and 800 volunteers who use more than 400 tons of equipment to "ensure peerless accuracy in timekeeping."
Omega is also celebrating its 25th Olympics, and of course, technology has changed quite a bit over the years. Since his first games in 1972, Hürzeler's has helped usher in a lot of technological changes by Omega for the Olympics. His favorite, according to Wired, was his improvements to swimming touch pads, which athletes use to stop the timer by applying 1.5 to 2.5 kilograms of pressure with their fingertips. They've been used since the 1967 Pan-American Games and Olympics in 1968.
In addition, Omega's latest timing system, Quantum, is accurate to one-millionth of a second. Omega indicates that "it delivers precision of 0.1 parts per million, meaning there is a maximum variation of only one second out of 10 million seconds or a thousandth of a second out of every thousand seconds. The previous devices had precision of 0.5 ppm, making Quantum five times more accurate."
It might seem like overkill, but in a swimming or track cycling race, every second — one millionth of a second — can indeed count.
6. How to Get The Perfect Shot — In The Pool!
Just as Wired profiled one of the most important timekeepers at the Olympics, the New York Times caught up with a number of photographers responsible for taking some of the most iconic shots of the athletes — including shots underwater.
Many shots in the pool, in fact, necessitate up to $30,000 of the right equipment. Preparation is key as well, as there needs to be a camera on each lane, or sometimes, when it's a two lane race with a close finish expected... multiple cameras.
Photographers activate the shots with a handheld trigger that is connected, via cable, to the camera at the bottom of the pool. Luckily since all cameras are digital these days, photographers can see them as soon as they're taken on a laptop.
The technology isn't perfect though, as water can still get in and short out the equipment. And batteries can even die. Or an athlete will actually hit the camera.
7. And Finally: Show Pride in Your Country (And Its Athletes) with This Gear
While you're watching the Olympics on your phone or tablet, you might as well deck it out in patriotic colors. Mashable rounded-up some of the best phone and tablet cases to show your support for your country and its athletes.
About Healthy Tech
This is the Healthy Tech Weekly, where guest columnist Alan Danzis reports on choice healthy technology news stories. Each week you'll discover new fitness gadgets, apps and going-ons, as well as what's around the corner, with medical innovations that will one day change the way you monitor and impact your overall health and well-being.
By day, Alan Danzis works at Atomic Public Relations. His opinions here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of Atomic, nor the clients Atomic works with.