After a one-year delay due to the pandemic, the Summer Olympics kick off this coming Friday. The event will capture the world’s attention for the following two weeks and feature not only the world’s best athletes but also next-generation technology that will be equally amazing.
The modern Olympics started 125 years ago in 1896. Even then, “high tech” was used as much as possible.
For example, stopwatches were used to time athletes and determine the winners. Stopwatches had been invented less than 30 years earlier when TAG Heuer developed the device that could measure time down to 1/5th of a second.
This surprised me a little bit. Electronic timing was introduced as early as 1912. It was crude by today’s standards but nonetheless quite innovative. The starter’s pistol was connected electronically (by hard wire) to individual chronographs that started automatically when the pistol was fired.
Those chronographs had also advanced to where they could measure to 1/100th of a second.
Now, of course, timing is all digital, which is critical because athletes have improved, too. In 2016, six of the eight times in the men’s 100-meter dash were between 9.81 seconds (Usain Bolt, the gold medal winner) and 9.96 seconds.
That’s six runners all finishing within 15/100ths of a second of each other!
But beyond sophisticated timing technology, some of the most important technologies taking us into the future will also be on display in Tokyo.
It will be more behind the scenes, but smart investors need to pay attention…
As you can imagine, putting on an event of such magnitude is a massive logistical challenge. Thousands of athletes (more than 600 from the U.S. alone) from more than 200 countries will compete in 339 events in 33 different sports at 13 different venues.
Then there are the officials, the workers, and everyone else.
Somebody is going to need an extra cup of coffee or two.
And somebody is going to need cars that drive themselves to help transport folks all over the place.
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) will be used on multiple routes, like transporting athletes from the airport to the Olympic village where they will stay and to different venues for the events.
And… Japan is doing this not just to help with logistics. The country also wants to take further steps to prepare for the future of transportation in which there is less traffic congestion and few if any fatalities.
AV technology will ultimately provide the best solution in history to the shocking number of traffic fatalities.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that about 95% of all crashes involve human error. When you consider that there are 1.3 million road fatalities every year around the world, AVs could save more than 1.2 million lives annually.
Self-driving vehicles are closer than ever with 5G rolling out. The mind-blowing speed and reliability are essential for AVs to monitor and analyze the world around them, which comes alive through data from cameras and sensors.
This needs to happen in basically real time, allowing the car to do everything from slam on the brakes to avoid a tragic accident to finding the best route in traffic at any given time. 5G makes that and so much more possible.
The day will also come when we get in our cars and do not have to touch the steering wheel. The industry is moving through the development phases toward full autonomous driving. Next will be what’s called “highway autonomy,” which will then be followed by “urban autonomy” and “full autonomy.”
Thanks to the breakthrough of 5G along with cameras, sensors, and everything that makes an AV basically a computer on wheels, I believe that autonomous driving will be accepted as the norm and create billions of dollars’ worth of business along the way.
Smart investors will make a whole lot of money along the way, too.
While we’re on the subject of machines that can operate themselves, robots are also expected to play a bigger role in the upcoming Olympics. Reports are that there will be about 10 different kinds of robots on hand.
Here again, next-generation connectivity makes this possible. Robots will have multiple jobs, ranging from guiding visitors and providing event information to carrying luggage and maybe even helping with the events themselves — like retrieving a javelin or discus.
Also behind the scenes, biometrics will be employed to help with security and related logistics. Facial recognition technology for athletes, judges, and others will help speed up screenings and keep out unauthorized people who manage to get a hold of someone else’s pass or try to create a fake one.
In the time of a pandemic, facial recognition technology will also allow for touchless screening and better contract tracing should cases be discovered. Let’s hope nobody comes down with COVID-19, but if they do, officials will be able to better know where they have been and with whom they may have come into contact.
There’s plenty more going on as well, like virtual reality (VR) viewing experiences and 8K broadcast technology. Add it all up and the Olympics showcases not just the world’s most talented athletes but also the technology shaping our future.
You can also add it all up and see how 5G’s speed and reliability will enable future technology breakthroughs. With 5G, data can be processed in as little as two milliseconds. If that sounds incredibly fast… it is.
It’s faster than the human brain, which processes information in 13 milliseconds.
That’s why it’s not an exaggeration to say the breakthroughs made possible by 5G will ultimately dwarf the economic impact of the internet.
And for investors, it’s the best chance to turn small investments into life-changing wealth.
Have a great rest of the weekend, and enjoy the Olympics!
On the date of publication, Matthew McCall did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
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