Whether it’s the first use of the stopwatch, the first TV broadcast of The Games, or the impending use of 5G, the Olympics are a chance for countries, brands, and athletes to demonstrate their might on a global stage. Behind all the impressive talent and athleticism is a patchwork of groundbreaking innovation that enhances the experience for athletes and viewer alike. From how the athletes prepare, to how we watch at home, the Olympics are one of innovation’s grandest stages. In addition to playing a vital role in a broader cultural and societal context, the Olympics serve as a pivotal signpost for what’s next.
The Olympics function as an R&D accelerator. Similar to DARPA or other high-concept R&D organizations, prototypes and concepts used in The Games often make their way to market afterward, eventually causing ripples that impact athletes, fans, and even cities. The unique circumstances surrounding the Olympic Games make it fertile ground for innovation. The blending of private/public institutions, the steadfast deadlines put into effect 8 years before the event, and the competitive spirit of The Games serve as catalysts for unprecedented advances in technology and experiences.
This vanguard culture benefits the athletes, fans, and hosting cities as well. Athletes are gatekeepers for performance products, serving as extreme test cases and marketing beacons for the general population. Fans reap the benefits of those high-stakes tests by getting access to the most successful, products and services launched at The Games. The fan experience is also heightened by the state-of-the art technology showcased in stadiums and for viewers at home. Cities benefit from the increased spotlight as well. The hard and fast deadlines that accompany such a large endeavor require municipalities to improve their ability to meet demands and accelerate development.
A closer look at the Olympics reveals that it is more than just an athletic competition; it is an ecosystem of innovation centered around products, services, design, data, and most importantly, people. These are all categories that Fahrenheit 212 is well versed in and continually leveraging for its clients. As a community of innovators, thinkers, strategists, architects, and designers, we are dedicated to realizing the future and continually looking for what’s next. Which is why we believe the importance of the Olympics in the innovation landscape should not be overlooked. We view athlete performance, the fan experience, and city transformation in the Olympics as a significant lens for innovation. In this series we will take a look at this triad of stakeholders, offering our perspective on the past, present, and potential future of Olympic innovation as well as spotlighting some of our favorite concepts for 2020 and beyond.
We hope that we’ve piqued your interest with this introduction and look forward to sharing the rest of our three part series in the coming weeks. The future chapters will provide a more in-depth review of the impact the Olympics has on innovation through the three key lenses of athletes, fans, and cities.