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Rio 2016 is the most data-intensive Games till date. Every facet of it depended, to a certain extent, on capture of data. Sensors, heart rate monitors, and GPS trackers are just a few technologies used heavily. Users have been able to monitor performance, recall earlier results, and view the results in real time with the click of a button. With the intensive use of modern technology such as Big Data and Analytics, the use and application of sensors has increased manifold. Sensors are helping bring about more accurate results as well as monitor factors such as an athlete’s health, impact of environment on events, among other things.

“As the scope of Big Data Analytics increases more and more sensors would be required to collect the data,” said Shashank Dixit, CEO, Deskera, a leading Cloud-based software provider that has recently launched its own Big Data product.

Big Data goes big at Rio 2016
Brazilian Canoe Federation has leveraged Big Data; sensors were installed in canoes and on athletes to gather data on performance and canoes. The heart monitor sends information via Bluetooth to sensors located in canoe. Together with an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and GPS, sensors have been able to measure the frequency and intensity of rowing and detect location, speed and direction of boat.

“All the information collected is transmitted to a host system that operates in the cloud on GE’s Industrial Internet platform,” Alfredo Mello, commercial head at GE for Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympic Games, said in an interview.

Similarly, the British rowing team has invested heavily in data analytics to measure and analyze all relevant data that can have a bearing on actual performance — from on-water training to gym sessions. Sensors have also been used to determine results with accuracy and have also been used to record the position of athletes; for example, location of athletes in road cycling events has been picked up by GPS sensors which send real-time data to reporters. Monitoring and analysis through sensors also improves technical and physical performance of athletes.

Not surprisingly, around 20% of the $2.25 billion budget of Rio Olympics was allocated to implement information technology and telecommunication. As many as 250 companies, including Cisco, Atos, América Móvil, Samsung, EMC, Omega, Panasonic, and Symantec, have provided technology to build the infrastructure.

“Evolving technology and software opens many possibilities for timekeeping and data handling. We are discovering many new ways to benefit athletes, judges and even spectators,” said Omega CEO Alain Zobrist in an interview.

With the increase in the reach and impact of Big Data in Rio 2016 and the projected expansion of Internet of Things and machine-to-machine communication in the coming Olympics, the scope and use of sensors is set to grow exponentially!