Intel is Bringing VR and Drones to the Olympics

The deal with the IOC lasts until 2024 and covers tech support, VR, and drone light shows.

Get ready to see a lot of Intel during the Olympics. The tech company has finished up a far-reaching agreement with the International Olympic Committee to infuse the games with tech that will change how the public watches the Olympics at home. Per the agreement, Intel will lend their tech to the 2018, 2020, 2022, and 2024 games.

So, what’s in store for us? The biggest thing to watch out for is VR. Ever since this generation of virtual reality broke out, the potential for spectator sports has been evident. The NBA already got started this past year, streaming one game per week in virtual reality to NBA League Pass subscribers. The idea is to put viewers at home right next to the action using high-quality 360 degree cameras, allowing VR users to see the action all around them. The hope would be that multiple 360-degree cameras are in use, to provide different points of view, too. It remains to be seen which VR headsets and platforms will actually get the Olympics broadcasts.

Intel will make that happen for the Olympics, starting with the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Using their True VR tech, Intel will help broadcast the games live in virtual reality. There are questions to be answered between now and then, though, including which sports will be covered and, in the United States, how much NBC will make available.

For those without VR headsets, there will be Intel 360 replays. Also using those 360-degree cameras, viewers can adjust camera angles and points of view when watching replays of some games. No more fixed broadcasts — you actually get to be in charge of what you see when watching the games!

But, broadcasting and streaming in VR is going to take a ton of bandwidth. That’s why Intel also plans to use these Olympics games, especially the 2018 games, as a springboard for their 5G network efforts. Intel is investing a lot in developing 5G networking equipment for global carriers and consumer devices alike, and the kind of data that will be moving around during the games will really put those developments to the test. That won’t just be important for VR, either — the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo is expected to be the first event to be broadcast in 8K.

And you know this agreement is going to include drones. Intel has a couple of solid drone light shows under their belts thanks to their efforts at Disney World and the Super Bowl, and now they’ll be taking that show to all four of the future games covered under the agreement. Involving hundreds of drones, these synchronized shows run off a single program, making the drones dance and light up in ways that give traditional fireworks shows a run for their money.