Olympic Games 2021 in Tokyo: how do 3D holograms in sports competitions work?

The Tokyo Olympics have widely adopted new technologies this year. Some competitions are broadcast in 3D holograms while others are broadcast by 5G.

This edition of the Olympic Games is decidedly very special. Delayed for a year due to the health crisis, the competition is held almost behind closed doors in a Japan under the influence of a new epidemic wave. To allow as many people as possible to enjoy the show in spite of everything, certain events are broadcast… in holograms.

It is the company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), the main telephone operator in the country, which takes care of the technical part. Named Kirari, the technology is quite far from the holograms we have seen until today.

How does the 3D hologram work?

Unlike Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s famous holograms, the Olympic events are broadcast here in 3D. Rather than relying on Pepper’s ghost technique which does not allow you to revolve around the hologram, Kirari allows you to see the athletes from all angles and to revolve around the action.

To produce a 3D hologram, NTT actually uses huge transparent cubes placed in the middle of a performance hall. It is inside this cube that the holograms of the athletes are projected. The solution reproduces in some ways the room in which the test takes place. This makes it possible to broadcast the competition thousands of kilometers away almost as if you were there.

NTT’s technology allows you to broadcast the event almost as if you were there // Source: NTT

On the capture side, the fights do not even need to be carried out in front of a green background. NTT’s cameras are able to extract a 3D skeleton of athletes in real time, ” whatever the background “. By multiplying the cameras, 3D modeling is more precise and allows you to have several angles of view on the action. A plethora of microphones are placed in the room to also reproduce the acoustic atmosphere of the event.

The technology is supported by an Internet service provider, because the distribution of a hologram requires considerable speeds. It is indeed necessary to diffuse an image in good enough definition from all the angles and to do it with a minimum latency so as not to break the effect of immersion.

5G and augmented reality

The International Olympic Committee did not limit itself to holograms for this edition of the Olympics The international competition relies on other technological solutions to improve the experience and bypass the health constraints imposed by the Covid.

Augmented reality used to add contextual information (artist’s view) // Source: Tokyo 2020

Nautical competitions will use 5G to broadcast the races live from the middle of the port. Spectators attending the swimming competitions will be able to watch the race through augmented reality glasses that will add contextual information superimposed on each person’s water lines.

Sure: you are paying too much for your 4G plan

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