The Olympics, particularly the opening ceremony, has a tradition of technology firsts and groundbreaking spectacle. In 2004, at the site of the original Olympics games in Olympia, the ceremony gained international acclaim by having a giant pool with slip-proof iridescent fibreglass flooring that drained its water in two minutes. It also had Emmy Award-winning lighting and a network of cables that choreographed the floating pieces of sculpture to follow the music of the opening ceremony. This set the standard high for 21st Century games.
However, the ceremony in Beijing blew all previous efforts out of the water. The Chinese games organisers even went so far as to use weather modification technology to stop it raining, a move that maybe organisers in London should have taken advantage of. The night before the ceremony the organisers fired a total of 1,110 rain dispersal rockets from 21 sites in the city to disperse the heavy clouds that were gathering.
The Beijing Olympics were all about being impressive and the 482 feet by 72 feet LED screen with 44,000 LED lights certainly achieved that. Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony (from what little has been revealed) seems to be more about creating a nostalgic and homespun picture of Britain but there may be some technological flourishes that will surprise us yet. Rumour has it that he’s used digital media to wow the audience.
Personally, I would like to see him take advantage of technology to make the experience extra special. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an interactive element to the show, where viewers both in the stadium and at home could influence the show through social media. Maybe tweets from around the world could be displayed or parts of the set could light up different colours in tune with the will of the audience. Alternatively, Danny could show up China’s big screen by having a 3D one to make the audience at the stadium really feel they’re part of the action.
But even if the opening ceremony isn’t the techie’s dream, there will be lots of other technology firsts to enjoy. The London games will be the first to take advantage of near field contactless technology for payments, they will be the first to be broadcast in 3D and events will be scored wirelessly for the first time. Maybe we’ll also win the most medals, that would certainly be a first!
What’s certain is that it will be an impressive show so we hope you enjoy it, whether you’re in the arena, watching it on TV, your laptop, mobile or tablet. We’ll all be talking about it on Monday.