SEOUL, South Korea, Jan. 19 (UPI) — Three weeks ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, a science exhibition offers a virtual preview of the Games through state-of-the-art technology.
At the National Science Museum in Daejeon City, the tech hub of South Korea, visitors find themselves immersed in snowy surroundings as they rush down a slope on a bobsled or ski-jump off a ramp through virtual reality technology.
“I actually don’t know much about winter sports so this was a fun way to learn about them. I’m kind of looking forward to the Olympics now,” said Chang Seo-jin, a 24-year-old teacher from Seoul.
Visitors can also take part in the world’s first screen-curling game and, through augmented reality, step onto the stage of the official Pyeongchang Olympics award ceremony.
“In addition to the IT features, our displays introduce various scientific concepts behind the Olympic sports categories. We’ve also displayed the actual Olympic medals as well as the Olympic torch here,” National Science Museum Assistant director Park Moon-shik told UPI.
Technology is one of the core pillars of Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, which is expected to be the most wired sports event in history, showcasing next-generation technologies to the world.
“The Olympics is coming back to Korea after 30 years. Back then, it was about putting Korea on the world map. But now, Korea is a different country — a global powerhouse in technology so there are many different things to show,” PyeongChang Organizing Committee Spokeswoman Nancy Park said.
The Olympic venues in the alpine Gangwon Province are embedded with the ultra-fast fifth-generation (5G) network, which visitors can test out two years ahead of its commercialization.
Throughout the Games, which will be broadcast live in ultra high definition (UHD), 5G-based technologies will transform the way the Olympics are consumed, turning spectators into virtual participants.
Some 360-degree virtual reality cameras will offer a panoramic view of the games, while omni-view services provide maps and views from specific locations, as well as track specific athletes’ progress and rankings.
Interactive time-slice features allow viewers to stop and rotate the screen to catch figure-skating jumps and spins from any angle while mini wireless sync-view cameras installed on the bobsled will show the track race through the eyes of the athlete.
Outside the stadium, augmented reality directions services will guide visitors to nearby venues within walking distance, while a self-driving shuttle bus will transport passengers around the Olympic Village.
Robots will also guide visitors and offer translation services based on artificial intelligence technology.
These experiential services require large data capacity which cannot be supported by the current 4G LTE technology.
However, 5G networks makes these services possible with a maximum speed of 20 gigabits per second, which is about 40 to 50 times faster that LTE technology and processes data nearly 100 times larger.
“The games are changing as technologies continue to evolve, and it changes the way people can consume and experience the games. Showcasing and testing them here in Pyeongchang — it’s very important for future games because by the next game it will be widespread,” Park told UPI.
Before the Games kick off, the Pyeongchang ICT Experience Center will offer a taste of these cutting-edge technologies. Phone reservations are required.
The Games begin on Feb. 9.