Mobile App Gold Medals: Tech at Sochi

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons: The U.S. Army
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons: The U.S. Army

Who says you have to go to the Olympics to experience all that they have to offer? As the line continues to blur between technology and real life, apps that help enhance the experience of live events are becoming more and more advanced. In just a few weeks, we can watch world-class athletes skate, ski, ice luge and bobsled their way to gold medals during the Winter Olympics in Sochi from the comfort of our own homes. And, we can amplify our experience with apps for our phones and tablets, such as the Sochi 2014 Guide. This isn’t the first sporting event to feature a custom app. Back in the fall of 2012, I blogged about the advanced U.S. Open App, and how it made excellent use of real-time analytics to help fans keep track of all of their favorite players. Then, of course, there’s the news that this year’s Super Bowl will be streamed live through Verizon’s Mobile NFL app, offering a unique way to watch the game.

Let’s get back to the Winter Olympics app. The app will allow users to follow the Olympic torch as it makes its way across Russia. It also allows you to create your own Olympic Games schedule so that you can watch the events you want, when you want, share videos and pictures of the games with friends and learn more about the venues and events.

Apart from being a cool, user-friendly app, the Sochi Guide 2014 and others like it are important because they play into our unique and changing viewer habits. When was the last time you watched TV without scrolling through your phone or iPad at the same time? Or, would the better question be, when was the last time you actually watched TV on a TV? The apps recognize our need to be involved with the action, even if we are not there. They offer the opportunity for the average Joe to offer his two cents on the games, even if he knows nothing about ice dancing. The shared experience of watching the Olympic Games and tweeting about them at the same time will create a tremendous amount of buzz, and help Olympic athletes and spectators to enjoy the games and feel closer to the action more than ever.

There are some bandwidth concerns, however. While we spectators using the app from home have the luxury of connecting our device to our private Wi-Fi network, the city of Sochi itself is expected to host 5,500 Olympic athletes, 25,000 volunteers and welcome 75,000 spectators each day, all the while broadcasting to 3 billion TV viewers. This means it is crucial for the networks at Sochi to be totally up to the strain of broadcasting the games. This can be done through building mission-critical networks, strong Wi-Fi networks and virtualized networks, which help to avoid bandwidth traffic jams.

What apps will you be using to watch the games? And what is your favorite event to watch? Tell us in the comments below!

Gaby Berkman is Account Executive at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter at @Gabyberk.