For 2028 Olympics, if not for 2024, India should have two goals: to excel on the field and to excel in the background, as a technology supplier
Tokyo was India’s best Olympics ever – with 7 medals, the first athletics Gold in Olympics history and a Hockey medal after 41 years. Yet, when we compare India’s performance in Olympics to its performance in other aspects of our lives – such as science, arts and commerce – it is nothing really to write about.
What is a little discomforting, however, is that when it comes to technology—where India excels—there is little involvement that we see from Indian technology companies.
The kind of innovations that we saw in Tokyo 2020—which our ITNEXT August 2021 Cover Story captures—shows us the time to come. Technologies like robotics were in full display in this unusual, pandemic-impacted Olympics.
India’s capability as a global technology hub is well acknowledged. So is India’s dominance of the global IT workforce. Yet, few Indian companies have managed to crack the technology at global sporting events.
Cricket, where India is today the undisputed global power, has actually led in technology usage. The Decision Review System (DRS) in cricket, based on the Hawkeye system incorporating technologies such as UltraEdge, Ball Tracking and Hot Spot, have changed the face of cricket. Many international sports such as Hockey have now implemented similar technologies.
It just needs a little will power and may be a concerted effort on part of Indian IT companies, sports bodies, venture capitalists and the government to come up with a sports technology ecosystem. States like Odisha which are increasingly hosting large global sporting events like World Cup Hockey can be good testbeds for such technologies.
Whether it is in better conduct of the sporting events, improving the accuracy in decision making in individual sports, helping prepare the teams and the individuals better, helping broadcasters create better user experience or simply help analysts forecast—IT can change the face of sports in general.
It is not difficult to guess which technologies would be most useful in sporting applications. They are the usual suspects. Tokyo has already shown how to use robotics effectively to smoothly conduct games and improve efficiency in operations. AI can have various applications. From video analytics to forecasting, AI can help in various ways. IoT-based sensory technologies can go a long way to accurately measure, quickly capture and almost instantly broadcast data about sports. Of course, the underlying cloud infrastructure can ensure that all these run smoothly and can be built quickly, almost on demand.
For 2028 Olympics, if not for 2024, India should have two goals: to excel on the field and to excel in the background, as a technology supplier. And of course, there are many sporting events in India and abroad before that to experiment and hone those skills.
Can we do that? I mean win more medals and more tech contracts.