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Intel is bringing drones and VR to the Olympics

The tech giant signs a seven-year deal to use its technologies during the Olympics, starting with the 2018 Winter Games.

Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Terry Collins
2 min read

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich says drones will play a vital role showing action at the Olympics. 


The Olympic Games don't just attract the world's best athletes, they're also a platform for emerging technologies like virtual reality , 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence and drones

Tech giant Intel said Wednesday it's now an official worldwide partner of the games through 2024. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and International Olympics Committee President Thomas Bach signed off on the deal during an event in New York. 

The new deal will begin during the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February, where 16 events will be shown through Intel's True VR.  It will be the first time the Winter Games will be shown in VR. Intel's True VR is currently showing weekly Major League Baseball games.  

"This is going to allow people who would never have a chance to get to Korea to see the Olympics, to actually feel like they're there," said Krzanich, who also held up a drone that will be deployed at the games. "This is about bringing the Olympics to many, many more people." 

The multiyear partnership between Intel and IOC comes as the Olympic Games, which already have one of the biggest global audiences, attempt to expand their reach though tech. Intel will join other Olympic tech partners including Samsung, Panasonic and Alibaba. In addition to the South Korea games, there will be upcoming Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, Beijing in 2022 and in a city yet to be selected in 2024.

Bach said sports now has to go where the audience is and that's through various mediums. 

"Our vision in the Olympic charter is building a better world through sports. Bringing together these two visions will allow us to make great progress," he said. "Now, in this digital age and with the cutting edge technology of Intel, athletes, fans and spectators can all experience this in a very different and innovative way."

Kraznich said the Olympics are already synonymous with technology, thanks to broadcasting, slow motion replays and high-resolution cameras. He thinks Intel's technology will be "an extension" of that history and said he hopes to see new tech like 5G networks and AI used in future games.

He said drones will be used to "create never-seen-before images in the sky," possibly reminiscent of pop star Lady Gaga's halftime show at this year's Super Bowl and NBA star Aaron Gordon at the slam dunk contest. There will also be 360-degree replay technology, like the kind used in the Super Bowl.

"Our goal is to 'be the player,' where you can feel like you're sitting on the soccer field and at the fencing event, where you can be one of the fencers experiencing somebody coming at you with a sharp object," he said. "I think of this as an open playing field." 

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