High tech assisting Beijing Winter Games

HIGH-TECH devices and facilities with multiple purposes are being developed across China ahead of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, as sports technology laboratories and programs are set up in key universities and stadiums.

At the 2022 Winter Olympics, athletes from around the world will not only compete with skill and proficiency, but will also compete along with technology that underpins their training and competition.

An athlete wears a portable cardiopulmonary function test instrument and rides a bicycle to a specific level, while his maximum oxygen uptake, blood lactate, riding power and other body indicators display on the screen.

In a Winter Olympics laboratory at the Northeast Normal University based in Changchun, Jilin Province, director Liu Junyi introduced the device’s features.

“This is an auxiliary training simulator for alpine skiing and snowboarding, and that is a neuromuscular rehabilitation training system specially developed for athletes of ice and snow events,” he said, adding that his lab is like a “clinic” and “gas station” for athletes.

Founded in 2015, the Winter Olympics laboratory at Northeast Normal University has six experimental sites, 24 different types of labs and more than 500 instruments and pieces of experimental equipment.

The lab has provided physical fitness and skill assessment, technical analysis, rehabilitation and other services for more than 1,000 athletes across China.

In a laboratory at Beijing Institute of Technology, graduate Cao Hongqing of the School of Automation stepped onto a 12-meter-long steel sliding table after putting on sensory equipment. With a pair of simulated sledges, he began to ski in front of a huge electronic simulation screen. “I mainly do slewing exercises on the sliding table. It is tiring to practise on it, but the experience of skiing is real,” said Cao.

The sliding speed on the simulation table can reach a speed of 100 kilometers per hour. The 17 sensors on the athlete’s joints can accurately reflect their posture and movement data and help the coach’s evaluation.

“The Beijing Winter Olympic Games is approaching, and we hope that our research results can improve athletes’ training levels,” said Liu Xiangdong, head of the skiing simulation research group and a professor at the School of Automation at BIT.

The ice-making at the National Speed Skating Oval, also known as the “Ice Ribbon,” was completed last Friday after more than 60 days, making the iconic Beijing Winter Olympic venue ready for test competitions.

The level difference of the concrete ice slab layers is about 4 millimeters and the temperature difference on the ice surface does not exceed 0.5 degrees Celsius, allowing athletes to perform to their best capabilities. The “Ice Ribbon” is the world’s first Winter Olympic venue using adopted carbon dioxide transcritical ice-making technology, which is currently the most environmentally friendly of its kind, with near-zero carbon emissions and improved efficiency.

For days, Liu Ming, an associate professor from the School of Optics and Photonics at the BIT, led his team to test the athlete motion capture and analysis equipment at a skating gym in Beijing.

Staring at 4K monitors displaying images of testers skating in the rink, Liu Ming operated a computer to capture and analyze their movements on a number of image-capturing pan-zoom devices and ultra-high-definition cameras erected in the stands of the gym.

“The function of our system is to record the athlete’s movement process through continuous zoom tracking and panoramic collection, and then analyze their movements and trajectories to optimize technical movements and help athletes and coaches achieve scientific training,” Liu Ming said.

The system includes two panoramic cameras with a resolution of up to 25 million pixels in a single frame, and an acquisition frame rate of 160 frames per second, which is suitable for multi-person motion trajectory analysis.

Another associate professor Zhang Haiyang, in charge of the “3D Perception and Reconstruction Technology of Winter Scene” project, is presenting a simulated Olympic ski resort constructed by a 3D laser radar scanning system.

The project scans the Olympic ski resort and surrounding environment in three-dimensional, obtaining a large amount of point cloud data, and then generates a 3D model.

The team can provide three-dimensional geometric data of the track for the indoor ski training simulation system, so that the relative movement of the athlete and the training platform conforms to the real sliding state. In addition, virtual scenes around the track can be provided to help athletes visually see the surrounding environment in real time.

“We measure the data of ski jumping, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and biathlon venues, and then present the site’s information using VR technology,” said Zhang.

In order to collect enough field data to simulate different environments, the research team visited several resorts in Beijing, as well as Hebei and Jilin provinces, to scan data and conduct tests with the UAV load laser radar scanning system.

According to researchers, this system had difficulty operating in temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius, forcing the team to use different types of UAVs suitable for low-temperature environments.

Besides, the team also developed athlete motion capture and trajectory tracking systems, which can capture the athletes’ posture in real time, as well as their position, acceleration, speed and other information.

“Our system has already been used by the national team, which can help reduce injuries, improve athletes’ training efficiency and provide technological support for coaches,” Zhang said.

With 5G signals, wireless charging and intelligent lighting, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway is a showcase of China’s latest achievements in railway development from equipment manufacturing and new materials to new artificial intelligence technology.

The train service, with a maximum design speed of 350 kilometers per hour, reduces travel time between Beijing and Zhangjiakou from over three hours to 47 minutes.

In late December, Shen Xue, former world champion in figure skating, was invited to try out a pair of digital renminbi (Chinese yuan) ski gloves. After buying a ticket by digital currency, she scanned her ski gloves at the turnstile and passed the subway gate to enter the station.

The debut of digital renminbi wearable devices marks the phased progress made by Beijing in promoting the digital renminbi pilot program around the Winter Olympics scene.

The digital renminbi wearable device wallet fully takes into account the travel needs of athletes and will be fully applied during the future Winter Olympics. It is believed to provide more travel and payment convenience for athletes, coaches and spectators.

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