Intel to deliver 5G platforms, drones and more at Olympics

Intel (Intel IOC)
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said drones that weigh less than 1 pound will be used to provide entertainment during events. An LED at the bottom of the drone can produce more than 4 billion color combinations. (Intel/IOC Media)

5G platforms, drones, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are some of the technologies that Intel will be showcasing at the Olympics, starting with the Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, in February 2018.

Intel said it has joined the Olympic Movement as the 13th member, making it an official Olympic partner through the 2024 games. The deal was announced on Wednesday at a signing ceremony in New York with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.

Krzanich spent some time during a press conference talking about 5G and how it is far different than the usual technology migrations in wireless.

“We’ve all heard about 5G,” he said, noting that events like the Olympic games are great examples of the challenges of connecting truly millions of fans at home with millions of things that are used to operate the games.

5G has yet to be deployed—in fact, standards are still being written—but Intel showed a real-time video of Intel VP Asha Keddy standing outside a corporate office in Santa Clara, California, talking to Krzanich and attendees at the New York event, using a 5G network. They used the occasion to unleash a huge sign on the side of a corporate building declaring Intel’s collaboration with the Olympics.

“That was truly 5G—if you had been at Intel headquarters yesterday, you saw antennas all over the buildings,” Krzanich explained. “We bounced around several buildings at 28 GHz and then down to the feed. We really wanted to do that for two reasons. One we’re completely excited and we wanted to show off to Silicon Valley that we are now a top sponsor of the Olympics. But also to show you that the technologies we’re bringing are real and they’re being advanced today and are being implemented as we speak.”

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One of the technologies he also highlighted was the use of drones during the Olympics. Intel has been exploring drones for several years, and one of its biggest breakthroughs has been in the entertainment space. The shooting star drones during Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl performance were designed and choreographed by Intel. The company actually started working on drones as part of a mission to replace technology with fireworks for safety reasons, he said.  

Intel technology will also provide real-time virtual reality viewing of the Olympic Winter Games, so fans who are not at the games will be able to experience events.

Mobile operator KT, an official sponsor of the PyeongChang Olympics, is also promising to show off a 5G pilot service using 28 GHz. It will be a precommercial service, but KT has hopes that its homegrown 5G specification will become part of the global standard for 5G.