Tagged: Olympics

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Violent video games not welcome for Olympic esports consideration

Enlarge / The 2024 Paris Olympic Games could be the first to feature non-violent esports as a medal event.Those pushing for the $1.5 billion esports industry to be considered on equal footing with traditional sports got a big boost back in October when…


A giant Progression AirBag is helping boarders train for the Olympics

Why it matters to you

The Winter Olympics are just months away, and this giant airbag wants to help keep folks safe while they train in the summer.

It may be the middle of summer, but the Winter Olympics of 2018 are mere months away at this point. That means that athletes around the world are in a training frenzy[1], and while any sport comes with the possibility of broken bones (or worse), modern technology[2] is doing its part to keep these athletes safe. The most recent innovation in winter sport technology can be found in Mammoth Mountain. It’s a giant airbag from Progression AirBags[3], whose goal is to help boarders learn and perfect their tricks, even when snow is scarce, in a safer way than ever before.

The brainchild of Marc-André Tarte of Acrobag[4] and Aaron Coret and Stephen Slen of Katal Innovations[5], this unique airbag actually emulates the grade of a real landing, rather than just providing a flat pillow. The new training airbag is a 200-foot-long, 77-foot-wide sack of air that weighs in at around six tons and can be broken down into separate pieces for easy mobility.

And from the looks of it, the pros are loving what the Progression AirBag offers. As U.S. Team rider (and Women’s Big Air gold medalist at the X Games) Hailey Langland told Grind TV[6], “The bag is basically a gigantic bouncy house, material wise … this kind of resource is super exciting for me. It’s not only to try and get comfortable with going upside down twice, but even to try basic tricks that I’m terrified of.”

She did note, however, that the bag can be something of a hit or miss. “If you fall on it the right way, you won’t feel a thing,” she said. “I have literally landed upside down — pretty much on my head — and didn’t feel it. But if the bag is kind of sticky or you fall on it wrong or land a certain way, it can whip the living daylight out of you.” Fellow U.S. team member Chris Corning agreed with her assessment, noting, “I would describe hitting the airbag as a big Slip ‘n Slide if you hit it right, or getting your board caught in a really sticky situation that sends you into a really bad rag doll.”

But still, he noted, “Having the airbag is a real game changer … I definitely see myself using it when there is no snow, just to keep my air awareness in high intensity over the summer. Keeping my tricks dialed over the summer will be key on the airbag.”


  1. ^ training frenzy (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ technology (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ Progression AirBags (progressionairbags.com)
  4. ^ Acrobag (acrobag.org)
  5. ^ Katal Innovations (www.katalinnovations.com)
  6. ^ Grind TV (www.grindtv.com)

Plan to get driverless taxis on Tokyo streets for 2020 Olympics steps up a gear

Why it matters to you

With a clear deadline on the horizon, the two companies are clearly determined to make a full-fledged driverless cab service a reality.

Japanese cabs are already a little bit robotic thanks to their automatic doors, which the driver operates from the comfort of their seat.

But as part of plans for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, hundreds of taxis in the capital city are gearing up to go full-robot, doing away with their driver altogether to offer rides in self-driving cars.

The government has been talking of such a move[1] for the last couple of years, and this week Tokyo-based robotics maker ZMP announced it’s inked a deal with local taxi firm Hinomaru Kotsu to make it a reality, Reuters[2] reported.

Similar to companies like Waymo, ZMP is developing automated driving technology — both software and hardware — that uses lasers, sensors, cameras and other kit to guide a driverless car and its occupants safely through traffic.

The company has been testing its technology on the roads of Tokyo since last year with a view to incorporating it into a fleet of taxis ready to transport athletes and sports fans around the city during the Olympics and beyond. While current tests involve an engineer in the driver’s seat monitoring the car’s progress, the plan is to have a car on the road without a safety driver by the end of this year.

A number of competing taxi firms in Japan’s capital are also interested in putting autonomous cabs on the road, with some turning to local car giant Toyota for help with the technology.

Japan’s self-driving plan for the Olympics isn’t only a way for the nation to showcase its advanced technologies. Such a system could also help relieve the pressure on taxi companies which, because of the nation’s declining birth rate and resulting fall in the number of available workers, are finding it increasingly hard to find new drivers.

“We’ve been trying to improve diversity by hiring more new graduates, women, and foreigners, but this will not be enough to ease labor shortages,” Kazutaka Tomita, Hinomaru president, told Reuters, adding, “We’ll have to compensate for the lack of supply by using autonomous driving technology.”

ZMP boss Hisashi Taniguchi promised that “autonomous taxis and the taxi industry can grow and prosper together” as he looked forward to transforming the streets of Tokyo with driverless cars.


  1. ^ talking of such a move (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ Reuters (www.reuters.com)

Recycled smartphones will be used to make medals for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics

Why it matters to you

It’s a great reminder to have a rummage through your closet and recycle any long-forgotten tech gadgets.

Winning athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be presented with medals made from metals recovered from discarded smartphones.

The idea was first mooted last summer as a way to deal with all the e-waste created by the tech-loving country. Or, as Japan’s three-time Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Kohei Uchimura put it this week: “Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic medals will be made out of people’s thoughts and appreciation for avoiding waste. I think there is an important message in this for future generations.”

Keen to move ahead with the plan, the organizing committee announced Wednesday the official launch of a campaign to encourage people to recycle their old smartphones so they can make medals using the metals inside the devices. Many tech gadgets contain small amounts of precious and rare earth metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and nickel.

Partnering with Japanese cellular giant NTT Docomo and the Japan Environmental Sanitation Center, the aim is to gather at least eight tons of metal from discarded mobile phones, the Japan Times reported[1], with “millions” of mobile devices needed in order to gather enough material for the 5,000 medals due to be presented at the sporting extravaganza.

While a number of recent Olympics used recycled e-waste for medals, Tokyo 2020 claims it’ll be the first where all of the gold medals are made entirely with recovered metal.

To make it as easy as possible for people to offload their old devices, the organizers are installing drop-off points at NTT Docmo’s nationwide network of more than 2,400 stores, among other places.

More: Tokyo 2020’s opening ceremony may include a man-made meteor shower[2]

“A project that allows the people of Japan to take part in creating the medals is really good,” Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi said[3]. “There’s a limit on the resources of our earth, so recycling these things will make us think about the environment.”

Japan itself doesn’t have many natural resources to speak of, though the gold and silver found inside its consumer electronics “is equivalent to 16 percent and 22 percent of the world’s total reserves, respectively – surpassing the reserves of any natural resources-abundant nation,” Nikkei noted[4] in a report last year.

And with Japanese consumers’ love affair with tech showing no signs of easing up, it shouldn’t take long for the 2020 Olympics’ e-waste initiative to hit its target.


  1. ^ reported (www.japantimes.co.jp)
  2. ^ Tokyo 2020’s opening ceremony may include a man-made meteor shower (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ said (www.bbc.com)
  4. ^ noted (asia.nikkei.com)