With the 2016 Rio Olympics underway, officials are ensuring that every athlete’s performance is accurately measured, hiring 480 professional timekeepers on site, along with 450 tons of equipment and 125 miles of cable. These measures are taken for proficient officiating, but Swiss time keeping company Omega is adding more innovative layers to improve upon how performances are recorded at the world’s most renowned sporting event.
“It took the sports two decades to accept that technology would replace human judges operating with handheld stopwatches,” Omega Timing CEO Alain Zobrist told the National Post. “It took time to change rules, to change habits.”
First introduced at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Omega has installed their digital lap counters at the bottom of the swimming pool for the 800m and 1500m competitions in the Rio Olympics, making it the first time they are used at the Olympics. These lap counters do not impact time keeping or data-handling in the races; they will be primarily used to improve the race experience for every swimmer.
“It gives racers and spectators a precise understanding of the winner’s recorded time,” Zobrist also told RC Wireless News. ““We are also working on improved GPS positioning so that during events, such as road cycling and team sports, we can produce live information and statistics relating to individual performers.”
Before technology could revolutionize the Olympic Games, officials would have to manually display to athletes and fans the number of remaining laps for each swimmer while standing at the edge of the pool. With these new lap counters, swimmers can concentrate on their technique and position in the race because highly visible screens keep athletes aware of the distance they have yet to swim.
“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,” Zobrist remarked.
Clearly, Omega has the best interests of athletes in mind, so they have been allowed to handle official time keeping for the Olympics since 1932. We are seeing that they are not afraid to make breakthroughs in this industry, so we can expect to see more improvements from this team in future Olympic games.