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New Devices Help Track Olympic Winners

timothy posted about 10 years ago | from the track-more-gymnasts-please dept.

Technology 209

Darren writes "Athletes are going faster, higher and longer and as a result the technology that measures their feats at the Olympics needs to keep up. As a result a number of new devices to help track winners, losers at the Games have been developed, including microchips on marathon runners' shoes, ultrasensitive touch pads in the pool, radar guns at the beach volleyball and cameras that take 1000 images per second."

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Nothing new here... (4, Funny)

Mateito (746185) | about 10 years ago | (#10050951)

Its always been easy to track the winners at the Olympics.

They're the ones with the medals hanging around their necks.

Re:Nothing new here... (1)

desmogod (792414) | about 10 years ago | (#10051149)

Or the ones that run very fast. Away drom the drug testing officials.

Re:Nothing new here... (0, Troll)

z3021017 (806883) | about 10 years ago | (#10051351)

It's also easy to track losers at the Olympics. They're the ones without medals hanging around their necks.

RFID Chips (4, Informative)

rjstanford (69735) | about 10 years ago | (#10050956)

Putting RFID chips on your shoes is nothing new. All of the local races down here use ChampionChip [championchip.com] timing, unless they're really small. Have done for years, too. There's a local company, Run-Far [run-far.com] who times most of the races as well - you run over mats at the start, finish, and useful places in the middle. Works pretty well.

Re:RFID Chips (5, Informative)

bigberk (547360) | about 10 years ago | (#10051076)

Putting RFID chips on your shoes is nothing new.
Civil liberties people prepare to be shocked. Not only are RFID chips in your shoes, but according to the July 2004 IEEE Spectrum [ieee.org] , they're also in
  • All Dockers khaki pants
  • All Colgate Shave Cream packages
  • All Trojan Ultra Ribbed condom boxes
  • Some Gilette razors

While I'm sure that nobody is tracking you right now, RFID tags can be read by several meters away and contain unique identifiers. If you thought the Pentium chip unique IDs were bad, this should (rightly so) worry you considerably more.

Re:RFID Chips (5, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 10 years ago | (#10051393)

Not only are RFID chips in your shoes, but according to the July 2004 IEEE Spectrum, they're also in [...]
All Trojan Ultra Ribbed condom boxes
[...] this should (rightly so) worry you considerably more.


It does...

Why the "Ultra ribbed" ones?
What are they hiding? What are they trying to find out?!

I'm scared.

Re:RFID Chips (4, Funny)

ctr2sprt (574731) | about 10 years ago | (#10051395)

And yet the RFID-enabled badge I use to open doors at work needs to be 1 inch away from the wall-mounted sensor. Perhaps if I carried a package of condoms in my khaki pants to work...

Re:RFID Chips (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051362)

yeah i remember seeing an episode of "monk" where some guy used this as an alibi for commiting some murder.

that was .. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0312172/ [imdb.com] wait 2002? i could have sworn it was mid-nineties.. you crazy americans and your fashion..

Re:RFID Chips (2, Interesting)

severoon (536737) | about 10 years ago | (#10051699)

So...does this mean that when a runner's foot (with the RFID) crosses the finish line, that's the time that's counted? That seems wrong to me...they ought to pin it to their chest (unless the chip crossing the line isn't noted by the computers as the time).

Come to think of it, what do the Olympic rules say about this? What part of a runner's body stops the clock?

Re:RFID Chips (3, Interesting)

xzoon (728128) | about 10 years ago | (#10051810)

Putting RFID chips on your shoes is nothing new.

Neither is touchpads and startingblocks in swimming. I've been a timekeeper for our local swimmingclub for a couple of years using this equipment, and so have my dad before me.

What makes it news is that almost noone knows about the equipment that gives them their times (or disqualifes them).

And to a poster a bit down, the equipment I use is able to measure down to 1/1000 of a second, but this is rarely used due to the incertainty. A swimmer might finish 1/1000 of a second before an other, but how do you prove that the second swimmer didn't hear the starting signal 3/1000 of a second later and deserve to win?

That's fine and all... (2, Funny)

darth_MALL (657218) | about 10 years ago | (#10050961)

but is there a device to track Olympic Weiners? I'm in Athens and I'm starving.

Re:That's fine and all... (5, Funny)

kfg (145172) | about 10 years ago | (#10051229)

. . .is there a device to track Olympic Weiners?

See above post about RFID tags in condoms.

KFG

Ahem... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Cowtard (573891) | about 10 years ago | (#10050975)

<michael>
But won't somebody think of the possibily of abuse and privacy concerns?
</michael>

Re:Ahem... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051044)

I see michael's modding tonight.

Circle gets the square (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051049)

Re:Ahem... (1, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | about 10 years ago | (#10051163)

The woman's locker room Web Cams for the Greek games are pretty good. Bet you didn't know those Russian women weightlifters wear jockstraps.

Re:Ahem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051384)

link?

Yeah... (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 10 years ago | (#10050979)


> ultrasensitive touch pads in the pool

I used to know a girl who had a couple of those.

Re:Yeah... (1)

severoon (536737) | about 10 years ago | (#10051720)

How ultrasensitive could they be? The water doesn't set them off...unless it uses galvonic skin response or something like that...

They may need to apply these devices elsewhere... (1)

Kjuib (584451) | about 10 years ago | (#10050980)

From what I have seen with refs in other US professional sports, these devices could greatly help out. Who can argue with ultrasensitive touch pads on the basketball court?!.. wait.. no...ok...

Fairness (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10050981)

No Fair! They will be changing the outcome when they measure the outcome.

Re:Fairness (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 years ago | (#10051016)

No Fair! They will be changing the outcome when they measure the outcome. A finish line is still a finish line. Though I can't recall when they were so precise they could count 100ths of a second.

Worry about how they'll apply lasers and 3D analysis to score gymnasts, regarding how closely they follow their selection and how 'artistic' it is. Anything judged seems ultimately fair game, though seems more sci-fi than prospective reality anywhere in the near future.

'Maybe if they have to wear barcoded suits...'

Caught you, Heisenberg... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051086)

You can't hide behind any cloak of so-called anonymity -- I have measured your comment, and found that it could only come from Heisenberg [aip.org] ... but wait, I measured it, so now I'm Uncertain ...

Re:Caught you, Heisenberg... (1)

Rassleholic (591097) | about 10 years ago | (#10051320)

Incorrect, I have also measured his comment and found the quote to have come from this man. [gotfuturama.com]

Googling Heisenberg, search engine unsure! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051522)

Sabre (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 years ago | (#10050983)

I was at the pub watching the men's sabre competition and we noticed they were wearing helmets the light up in different colors, also wear clothing that detects contact and prevents the usual bloodletting a strike would make. Pretty interesting stuff.

Re:Sabre (2, Informative)

pjt33 (739471) | about 10 years ago | (#10051079)

Actually, I think you'll find the sabres used don't have a sharp edge, so it would be bruising rather than bloodletting.

Re:Sabre (3, Interesting)

EvanED (569694) | about 10 years ago | (#10051114)

Tell that to this guy [skysports.com] ...

(To be fair, it's unusual. By insurance rates, fencing is actually one of the safest sports from what I've heard.)

Re:Sabre (1)

DarkFencer (260473) | about 10 years ago | (#10051172)

Drawing blood in fencing is rare, but the way it happened in the above linked match is about the only way it will happen. Two over agressive fencers clash blades (or blade to mask), and one blade snaps. The point where the blade snaps can be somewhat sharp though in this day and age it won't do serious damage.

In an olympics in the early 20th century, a fencer was killed when a blade broke, and the remaining part of the blade went through the mask and into the opponents head.

Now though, the only thing that happens much is the occasional knee injury (like I had).

Re:Sabre (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051282)

You're probably thinking of Vladimir Smirnov [wikipedia.org] (see also Fencing's Most Terrible Moment [tripod.com] ), at the 1982 world championships in Rome.

Re:Sabre (2, Funny)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | about 10 years ago | (#10051355)

Fencing's Most Terrible Moment?

That would be when Madonna "acted" as James Bond's fencing instructor in Die Another Day [imdb.com]

Re:Sabre (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 10 years ago | (#10051401)

In an olympics in the early 20th century, a fencer was killed when a blade broke, and the remaining part of the blade went through the mask and into the opponents head.

I've had a small amount of fencing lessons here at PSU (a semester or of doing the club, not very seriously, a few years back, and then I just finished a semester long course), and I think that the head coach here may have witnessed this event, if it is what the other poster links to. (I can't be sure, it's possible that the tragedy was just mentioned, but I do remember hearing that he saw this.) Truely a sad story...

Re:Sabre (2, Informative)

damiangerous (218679) | about 10 years ago | (#10051457)

It didn't happen due to a broken blade, I was watching that match. I don't know specifically how it happened, but the guards were entangled briefly.

Coincidentally, that match also was also the venue for the most disgusting display of "sportsmanship" (or lack thereof) I've seen outside an NFL end zone. Immediately after the match Touya ran around holding his saber like a machine gun and mimed "shooting" Smart several times. Personally I think he should have been tossed out and stripped of his standing at that point. (And no, not because he's French or something stupid like that. Note that I compared him to the NFL, I think those players should be tossed too)

Re:Sabre (2, Interesting)

severoon (536737) | about 10 years ago | (#10051780)

So, what do the rules say on that? If you accidentally kill your opponent, is that an automatic win for you, or what? (I just have to know.)

Re:Sabre (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 years ago | (#10051298)

Tell that to this guy...

The very match we were watching. It looked like Smart's blade had broken as something silvery flashed away. Shortly after that the Baseball Brigade came in and insisted the whole bar watch the world's slowed sport -- quite a contrast from watching all those exciting Olympic sports, even those most people consider obscure.

Re:Sabre (1)

tonyr60 (32153) | about 10 years ago | (#10051143)

"prevents the usual bloodletting a strike would make"

Hardly in the spirit of the original olympics.

Re:Sabre (5, Informative)

DarkFencer (260473) | about 10 years ago | (#10051214)

Actually other then the fact that the fencing equipment in the olympics is wireless, there isn't much new to the electronic sensors. Fencing was one of the first sports to benefit from electronics due to the extreme speed of the action (sabre fencing is the fastest martial art in the world).

Even with the sensors, an extremely skilled judge (called a director in fencing) is required to determine which competitor is considered the agressor and has 'right-of-way' to see who gets the point.

On a side note, as a long time fencer actually getting to watch the sport in the olympics for the first time I realised one thing. It is a really bad spectator sport if you do not know the sport yourself. I watched the events on tv with family and friends and unless they showed a slow motion replay, people were just at a loss as to what happened (unless they were fencers themselves).

Re:Sabre (1)

red floyd (220712) | about 10 years ago | (#10051266)

I can vouch for this. I haven't fenced in about 20 years, and it took about half of the first match that I watched for my "visual reflexes" to come back. Before that, I couldn't follow the action.

Re:Sabre (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 10 years ago | (#10051552)

Actually other then the fact that the fencing equipment in the olympics is wireless

No its not. [athens2004.com]

See the wire [www.cbc.ca] stiking out the back of the fencer?

Re:Sabre (1)

Zebbers (134389) | about 10 years ago | (#10051235)

I dont much understand the use of the lights in that, as the judge makes the actual call since they tend to both hit each other (no real clean one way hits)

Re:Sabre (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051313)

That's only saber, which most people consider to have been hurt by its electrification.

In Epee there is no concept of right of way, it is solely dependent on who hits first, within a very small time window.

The third weapon, foil, has right of way like saber, but is generally not so bad with double as saber.

Re:Sabre (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051429)

The lighted masks are an attempt to make the sport more spectator friendly. They're not used outside of the Olympics.

The jackets are simply a lame (luh-may, as in woven metal, not lame as in dorky) and used as part of a fairly simply electrical scoring system since the 30's (for foil) and later for other weapons. (since the 60's for sabre IIRC)

The weapons are not sharp, but they are either squarish or triangular so the way they hit would certainly cause bleeding welts if on bare skin. The jackets are also made from a very tightly woven material made to resist punctures from the occasional broken blade.

That's cool for track... (5, Funny)

Xxanmorph (654953) | about 10 years ago | (#10050992)

Now we just need a way to stop the judges from doing something stupid in gymnastics and we'll be set.

Re:That's cool for track... (2, Interesting)

zaxios (776027) | about 10 years ago | (#10051297)

Actually, it is interesting that as track, swimming, cycling, etc, events become even more precisely measured, gymnastics and diving remain judged by entirely fallible humans. Listening a couple of nights ago to the commentators wonder if the judges noticed one diver's poor entry makes the Games described here seem a little alien to me.

Re:That's cool for track... (2, Insightful)

rlorenzo (761036) | about 10 years ago | (#10051311)

Yeah, even with all this technology the weakness is still a human factor.

Why can't judges watch slow speed replays and other assistment in their judgement... they can turn judging into a science rather than the crud it is currently.

Re:That's cool for track... (2, Insightful)

SourKAT (589785) | about 10 years ago | (#10051638)

I never really considered a sport anything where a third party (judge) decides who wins or loses. This include gymnastics, diving, figure skating and miss universe.

But no need to debate this, as this is just me. Just my humble opinion. I'm sure very few would agree with me, but heck, it's an OPINION.

Re:That's cool for track... (1)

severoon (536737) | about 10 years ago | (#10051801)

I've been taping the wrong Olympic coverage...when and what channel is the Miss Universe Olympic event on!?

Oh wait...now I get it...

Re:That's cool for track... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051737)

As long as this technology isn't being developped by the French it should be reliable...

Remember the 2002 Olympics [cnn.com] ?

Something tells me (5, Insightful)

baximus (552800) | about 10 years ago | (#10051001)

Something tells me that the technology used will inevitably be faster than the athletes it's used to track. Athletes are, after all, not going twice as high, twice as long or twice as fast, every two years.

Re:Something tells me (5, Insightful)

space77pup (743735) | about 10 years ago | (#10051077)

True, but it definitely does have to exceed the athlete's abilities. It seems that every Olympics the margin between Gold, Silver and Bronze gets smaller and smaller. What was the difference between Gold and Bronze in the Men's 100M Dash? .02 of a sec. If the technology was even 10 years older, they would probably have called a tie between all three of them.

Not a tech issue (2, Insightful)

hacksoncode (239847) | about 10 years ago | (#10051361)

Even 50 years ago, they were using exactly the same technology to figure out this stuff that they're using today: photo finishes. The fact that today the pixs are digital and available instantly and in days of yore you had to wait for them to get developed is merely an optimization.

Re:Something tells me (1)

OniOid (579440) | about 10 years ago | (#10051708)

I'd have modded this Funny.

1000 images/second? (4, Funny)

four12 (129324) | about 10 years ago | (#10051011)

...that's about how many are taken of Misty May's and Kerri Walsh's butts as they play a game.

Re:1000 images/second? (1)

red floyd (220712) | about 10 years ago | (#10051299)

My wife commented that the guys in Beach Volleyball get to wear tank tops and baggy trunks, but the women have to wear skimpy bikinis.

Totally OT, but what happened to those hooded, full body suits that the sprinters wore in Sydney?

Re:1000 images/second? (1)

severoon (536737) | about 10 years ago | (#10051817)

Somehow, I don't think this is an issue for the players. More viewers means more ad revenue means more money for everyone, them included.

Plus, it's still a step up from the original Olympics, where it was men only and everyone was naked. I wonder if those women wear sunscreen...it seems like it'd make the volleyball slippery so it wouldn't be allowed.

Where will it all go when they're done? (5, Interesting)

jmcmunn (307798) | about 10 years ago | (#10051019)

I can only assume that most of the finishes will be recorded digitally, along with all of the information collected about speed and time and all of that.

So where will all of the information go when the games are over? Is there going to be a huge online stockpile where we can all go and watch the ultra slow motion finishes, and look up who had the fastest volleyball spike? I know I could spend hours just watching the slow motion cameras they use to record the divers and sprinters.

Anyone else interested? Can you imagine how much data they must be generating with all of these cameras and sensors?

Yeah Right (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051031)

microchips on marathon runners' shoes, ultrasensitive touch pads in the pool, radar guns at the beach volleyball and cameras that take 1000 images per second."

I'd rather have cameras take 1000 images per second of the [female] beach volleybal players and use my ultrasensitive touch pads on my own radar gun.

False Starts (5, Interesting)

viggen9 (192812) | about 10 years ago | (#10051032)

Apparently the athletes are improved, too. In track events, a start time within 0.1 seconds of the gun going off is considered a false start. Apparently 0.1 seconds is the fastest reaction time that humans are capable of. Some athletes, though, are now able to react in under 0.1 seconds, and as a result, they are being charged with false starts.

I don't think they react under 0.1 seconds... (4, Interesting)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | about 10 years ago | (#10051104)

it's just they're anticipating the gun, sometimes they get it right and most of the time they get it wrong: given the new rule that any false starter (after the first start) will be DQ'd I'm sure you won't see 0.1sec reaction times the second time around: to the naked eye the reaction times of the 2nd start they did the other day in the 100m semi-final seemed slower than the 1st for example.

It'd also be interesting to know how far from the athletes the gun is located and if sound travel speed can have an impact on things (how is the electronic system synchronized to the gun? via sound? some other way?)

Re:I don't think they react under 0.1 seconds... (1)

MntlChaos (602380) | about 10 years ago | (#10051278)

there's a speaker behind each athlete so that they hear it simultaneously (well, unless you count the sub-thousandths-of-a-second differences in cable length

Re:I don't think they react under 0.1 seconds... (1)

severoon (536737) | about 10 years ago | (#10051851)

I might be wrong about this, but I actually was looking at the women's 100m yesterday and noticed that the wires leading to the speakers on the inside tracks have more wire coiled up then the ones stretched out to the outside tracks. It makes sense that they're not going to custom-cut a bunch of cables for that particular usage, they're going to get a dozen 25-footers and use them. So they're all the same length, I think.

Not, of course, that it matters... :-)

Re:I don't think they react under 0.1 seconds... (2, Informative)

Chris Brewer (66818) | about 10 years ago | (#10051530)

"It'd also be interesting to know how far from the athletes the gun is located and if sound travel speed can have an impact on things (how is the electronic system synchronized to the gun? via sound? some other way?)"

There is a mic or some other sensor attached to the starter pistol linked up to mini-loudhalers sitting directly behind each athlete so every competitor hears the start at precisely the same time. They've been doing this for a long time.

rrrr. (0)

thhamm (764787) | about 10 years ago | (#10051033)

women beach volleyball and cameras that take 1000 images per second, ey? hmm, excellent!

Huge strides! (0)

leonara (87228) | about 10 years ago | (#10051038)

Imagine how far we've come in 72 years - from an average of 25 stopwatches to high speed cameras and microchips in shoes. It makes one really wonder how much more accurate such devices would have to be in the future when men (and women) get faster and races have closer finishes. Maybe we will end up relying more on quantum physics. Then the uncertainity principle kicks in and since "the position and momentum of a particle cannot be simultaneously measured with arbitrarily high precision" - you would either be able to say who won or how fast the winner ran! :)

There is hope yet!?

Re:Huge strides! (2, Funny)

Exitthree (646294) | about 10 years ago | (#10051141)

This only applies if we start sending single particles to the Olympics instead of macroscopic athletes...

How sensitive are those touchpads? (-1, Redundant)

madprogrammer (214633) | about 10 years ago | (#10051046)

I wonder if you actually have to touch them, or if the displacement of water near them could trigger them?

Re:How sensitive are those touchpads? (1)

jmcmunn (307798) | about 10 years ago | (#10051062)

Someone mod this down and read the article...it says right in the article that they are not triggered by the water, only the fingers.

Re:How sensitive are those touchpads? (1)

madprogrammer (214633) | about 10 years ago | (#10051112)

Damn.. that's pretty bad.. it even uses the words I used...

I wonder how I missed that!

Re:How sensitive are those touchpads? (3, Informative)

Sparr0 (451780) | about 10 years ago | (#10051094)

a combination of well calibrated sensitivity and wet-road-tire-like grooves prevents the water from activating them.

The Code Revealed (0, Offtopic)

therealfitzman (807672) | about 10 years ago | (#10051048)

10 Print Who is teh Win? 20 IF $Athlete=Commie GOTO 30 ELSE=GOTO 40 30 Print YOU LOSE 40 PRINT YOU WIN This code is based on System V or so I have read.

failz0r5 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051117)

an0therA troubled

this must not be true (4, Insightful)

jjeffries (17675) | about 10 years ago | (#10051121)

Bicyclists use a transponder clipped to a spoke on their front wheel to record their finish time. It sends signals from the bike to antennae along the route so judges can confirm who is in first.

That must be a typical media oversimplification, right? If a race comes down to a scary, rubbing-elbows-with-the-guy-beside-me sprint, I sure don't want the 'win' to be decided by where in its rotation my wheel is when we cross the line together...

Re:this must not be true (1)

Sentar (188247) | about 10 years ago | (#10051198)

Agreed. I would think it'd make more sense to have it in a non-rotating place, like on the front forks. Not to mention there would be less of a possibility that it'd come flying off...

Re:this must not be true (1)

lilmouse (310335) | about 10 years ago | (#10051242)

In that case, I imagine a photo finish should be sufficient - I'm sure they're not doing it ALL by just one transponder. What if it goes bad? You've got to have multiple ways to track each thing.

--LWM

Re:this must not be true (1)

IvyMike (178408) | about 10 years ago | (#10051259)

It's a little ambiguous the way it's phrased, but I suspect this device is used for gross position along the course, not for official final times at the finish.

Re:this must not be true (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 10 years ago | (#10051350)

If the transponder is down near the hub, the difference is only about 3". And I expect they would put it there, to reduce effects on wheel balance.

And if the finish is that close, reviewing the photo would be in order.

Re:this must not be true (1)

severoon (536737) | about 10 years ago | (#10051871)

I'm not sure they would want to throw the wheel balance off even the tiniest bit. After all, those track cyclists are riding $35k bikes. I don't know about you, but if I take out a second mortgage to buy a race bike, I want the damn thing balanced perfectly if only for psychological reasons.

Re:this must not be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051373)

Bicyclists use a transponder clipped to a spoke on their front wheel
Viewed from outside the bike's frame of reference, that would look pretty damn neat. heh, maybe Greeks just can't shake off the epicycle [wikipedia.org] theory

bicycle (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051588)

i think the sensor is on the fork, but i could be wrong. also, it's not used to determine who won the race - it's only used as a guide.


in an extreme sprint like you've mentioned, photo finish is used. in fact, in one tour de france stage, i believe, there was a case that the sprint was so fierce that the rider whose front wheel crossed the line first (the "winner) was not the same as the rider whose sensor on the fork first crossed the line.

Tour De France Timing and Scoring Technology (4, Informative)

MisterLawyer (770687) | about 10 years ago | (#10051150)

Last month, Engadget had an interesting article [engadget.com] about new "crazy technology being used for timing and scoring the Tour de France".

from the article: Matsport relied on some rather amazing high-tech timing and scoring technologies this year, including a FinishLynx® high-speed digital finish line and timing camera system, produced by Lynx System Developers, Inc., of Haverhill, Massachusetts, and an AMB Activ transponder timing system, produced by AMB-it, Heemstede, Netherlands

There is also a really nifty diagram about halfway through the article, showing how the AMB Activ Transponder timing system works.

Not directly Olympics-related, but since we were on the topic of new technology used to measure athletes...

This is great! (2, Insightful)

mmmmmhotpants (800341) | about 10 years ago | (#10051211)

I think this is another example of where general technology gets a huge boost because of the demand of an insanely rich non-human-essential industry.

There is a lot of money in the Olympics, mostly from advertisers on NBC. These new devices are developed more so to improve the TV watcher's experience; there wasn't a need for smart devices in the first Olympics, there is no need now.

Another example, medical imaging: if it weren't for the millions of you out there who are willing to shell out tons of money for games, better digital radiology technology would have never developed.

Personally, I think its great that technology can be developed and improved and debugged at the expense of entertainment industries and then be taken to other fields. No doubt the Olympics have improved the field of embedded computing as a whole.

Re:This is great! (2, Insightful)

cft_128 (650084) | about 10 years ago | (#10051423)

There is a lot of money in the Olympics, mostly from advertisers on NBC. These new devices are developed more so to improve the TV watcher's experience; there wasn't a need for smart devices in the first Olympics, there is no need now.

Are you sure about that? With the difference between gold and bronze in the men's 100m dash being 0.02 seconds, I think we would need some high speed cameras and not 25 opinions.

Re:This is great! (1, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | about 10 years ago | (#10051576)

These new devices are developed more so to improve the TV watcher's experience; there wasn't a need for smart devices in the first Olympics, there is no need now.

You've never done scoring for a race, have you? Some of these systems are an absolute blessing even for local club events. AMB transponder systems are such old news they're affordable by individuals now and you can make your own system with Radio Shack bits for even less.

See the above comments about fencing as well.

KFG

Shoes? (2, Insightful)

dj245 (732906) | about 10 years ago | (#10051268)

Would it not be better to put the microchip in the athlete number on the chest of the athelete? I am concerned that (assuming they only have one chip each in one shoe) one runner will have their left foot forward while the other has their right foot forward and the end of a very close race.

Unless of course they have a chip in both shoes which would totally invalidate my problems with it. Are you suggesting I didn't read the article?

Seriously, the gadget we really need (1)

addie (470476) | about 10 years ago | (#10051283)

Is a handheld drug-tester, that can develop results on the spot and uses a tiny blood sample. Using it directly before the start of every competition will be the only way to determine the real winners... not the high-speed cameras.

(I realize that kind of technology is far away, but at this rate, we've got no choice but to continue to invest more and more money to catch these "athletes")

Eliminate the short races (1, Interesting)

xant (99438) | about 10 years ago | (#10051288)

It becomes more and more ridiculous even to measure the outcomes of the short races. I watched a swim meet that was decided by 0.01s! Ultra-sensitive touch pads can detect this difference, sure. But who the hell cares? Is the athlete who was 0.01s faster in a 60s race really a better athlete? A million factors, none of them related to his athleticism or dedication or training or the degree to which he overcame personal hardship would have decided this race. Especially in swimming. Water turbulance caused by the swimmer in the next lane must have a tremendous effect; putting you next to a different swimmer could therefore change the outcome. Water temperature differences could have an effect, the wind overhead could have an effect. I see no point in giving the gold medal and all the glory to someone and denying it to another based on a 0.1s difference.

Therefore we should make all these races longer. If you double the length of the race, it stands to reason that the difference between the winner and loser will be twice as large; then maybe you can say with some confidence that the race was decided by athleticism and not pure luck. Sure it's a different sport, but at least you'd be measuring something meaningful.

Re:Eliminate the short races (1)

zaxios (776027) | about 10 years ago | (#10051328)

But who the hell cares? Is the athlete who was 0.01s faster in a 60s race really a better athlete?

It's not about who's the better athlete. It's about what happens on the night. The Olympics spontaneity is part of its fun.

Re:Eliminate the short races (1)

swimmar132 (302744) | about 10 years ago | (#10051331)

This has to be a troll. If not, dumbest post I've read in a long time.

Differences in the pool are decided by thousandths of a second now, not hundredths.

The point is to recognize the fastest swimmer, not to recognize the person who is "the better swimmer".

Re:Eliminate the short races (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051621)

>Differences in the pool are decided by thousandths of a second now, not hundredths.

swimming events are measured down to the hundredths. (computers/touch pads are capable of measuring down to thousands, btw, but those digits aren't used.)

Re:Eliminate the short races (1)

stevesliva (648202) | about 10 years ago | (#10051402)

Luge is measured to millisecond precision. Which seems insane, as does timing sprints to the hundreth of a second, until you realize that the same guys consistently step up and win, again and again. Maurice Greene had exactly the same time in the Athens final as he had in Sydney.

Now, averaging the times for a set of short sprints over the course of several days might be more fair...

Re:Eliminate the short races (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051602)

the newest videocards will improve the FPS framerate by 2% from 250 to 255! who cares that we can't even perceive that difference! :P

Re:Eliminate the short races (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051744)

First, in swimming the waves caused by the next lane can help or hurt you, but it doesn't matter in a 50 b/c everyone is neck and neck. Also, more lane lines and better gutters have removed alot of the splash and you can ride off another swimmers wake just like drafting in a bike race.

As for making the races longer, well we already have a race twice as long as the 50 free and the 100 meter dash. Different people win them because it takes a slightly different type of athlete to excel at those longer distances. So your proposing to remove the sprints. As a former distance swimmer I saw go for it, but expect 6'8" sprinters to protest quite violently because you just axed their events.

Re:Eliminate the short races (0)

aslate (675607) | about 10 years ago | (#10051820)

Therefore we should make all these races longer. If you double the length of the race, it stands to reason that the difference between the winner and loser will be twice as large; then maybe you can say with some confidence that the race was decided by athleticism and not pure luck. Sure it's a different sport, but at least you'd be measuring something meaningful.

Yea, great idea! Lets make the 100m the 200m, the 200m the 400m... You know they're all pretty damned close.

Of course, that's ignoring the total change of tatics, stamina and everything else that means people compete in different length races.

"from the track-more-gymnasts-please dept" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051307)

What's the matter Timothy, can't get enough of all those guys in tights without technical assistance?

Call me old-fashioned (1)

nbert (785663) | about 10 years ago | (#10051464)

but I consider wrong decisions to be part of the game.

They developed something like this for soccer matches some years ago (all links I can think of lead to German sites - rather boring for the majority ). However, there have been some controversial decisions in this sport (like England vs. Germany 1966), which people are still discussing nowadays. I believe that sensors would make sport more boring in the long run.

touch pads: "better" than required (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10051481)

touch pads used in swimming have been capable of going further than the "required" level. times are only used down to the hundredth of a second though technology has existed to measure down to the thousandth.


once upon a time, events were measured down to the thousandth. in one race, 400 meter IM about 30 years ago i believe, the time separating the winner to the runner up was 0.003 seconds - about 3 millimeters. after that, it was argued that the variation in the flatness of the touch pad/pool wall would cause differences so small - hence swimming governing body decided to use the time only down to the hundredth, and consider the race tied if same to the hundredth.


i once tied another swimmer in a 1000 yard race. i thought i had beaten him because my name came up first on the scoreboard, but it turns out we had tied. i checked the computer printout and it turns out i had beaten him by 0.005 s - so my name did come up first for a reason. :)

Awkward wording in summary? (1)

Tzarius (688342) | about 10 years ago | (#10051540)

As a result a number of new devices to help track winners, losers at the Games have been developed

Anyone else have to read that twice?

A thought about Olympic precision.... (2, Funny)

Rahga (13479) | about 10 years ago | (#10051759)

"....cameras that take 1000 images per second."

Yet they are looking at giving out All-Around Male Gymnastics double gold because Judged accidentally knocked a tenth of a point from the starting score of a gymnast.

FinishLynx (5, Interesting)

pHatidic (163975) | about 10 years ago | (#10051798)

The coolest tech out there is definitely finishlynx. It takes pictures of who crosses the finish line only a pixel or two wide and stitches them together so you know exactly who crossed the line in what order and what their times were since the times are exactly proportional with the pics. In this pic of me in the men's lightweight single dash [boathouserow.org] I am finishing 3rd (Alex Krupp, lane 1). The reason I appear so bloated compared to everyone else is I put on a huge fucking sprint at the finish and even though I was a full boat length of open water down on 5th place with 100 meters left I managed to finish 3rd. Not bad for not eating shit or drinking much in 2 days to make weight. Anyway because I was going so much faster than everyone else at the finish I appear in the least number of pixel wide images, thus making me appear bloated and compressed compared to all the other boats. The reason all the oars are swirly is because they change positions from when the first part of the oar crosses the line to when the whole boat is passed, thus creating a cool real time motion blur.
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