Technology Behind the 2012 Olympics
The Summer 2012 Olympics are almost here. Soon we’ll be watching our favorite athletes competing on the World’s stage. In contests where the victor is determined by hundredths or even thousandths of a second how do officials determine acurately who wins??? This blog post will give you a glimpse at the technology behind a 2012 Olympic track race.
The Track, Start to Finish at the 2012 Olympics
The runners approach their blocks and set their feet. Built into the blocks are sensors that can detect a false start by timing the trigger pull of the starting gun to the movement of the runner’s foot. According to scientists, humans can not react faster than .1 of a second. The best sprinters start at about .13 of a second so the sensors call shenanigans when a .09 or less happens and the runner is disqualified.
Moving on to the starting gun, it is no longer a gun because the speed of sound, quite simply, is just too slow. See it takes longer for the sound of the gun to reach runners on the outside lanes, thus giving runners closer to the gun a hundredth of a second edge. Since these races can be determined by the hundredth or even thousandth of a second you can see the officials’ dilema. To solve this, the new “gun” is connected to a series of speakers behind each runner. Each speaker goes off simultaneously giving all the runners the same start. The timing system is an Omega product, the same manufacturer James Bond wears…
Once they are running, all kinds of sensors above and below the track are active. Above the track is a wind sensor. Any “tail” wind over 4.5 MPH can invalidate a broken record with a “Wind Assisted” annotation. Also above the track are a series of photoelectric cells that shoot laser beams to report a runner’s current pace on the record or whatever they want, think of the photocells as a cop’s radar gun. Finally, built into the runner’s bib number is a transponder that sensors under the track detect. I’m not sure what the transponders are for, backup tracking for the athletes?
Finally, the Photo Finish! Two cameras and 1 backup camera are on each side of the finish line. These cameras take 2000 digital pictures a second. The photo finish is then compiled from thousands of images via computer and shown to the officials. The winner is the first to have their chest, not foot, head or anything else for that matter, across the line!
So there’s an inside look at some of the technology behind the 2012 Olympics. Got questions, let me know!
For more information on the 2012 Olympics, go to the sourceSources: Washingtonpost.com - Bob’s Blitz - Jamesbondwatches.blogspot.com