Olympics Offers Showcase for Tech Such as VR, Payments Ring

Besides dazzling feats of athleticism, dazzling new technologies will be on display at the Olympics. About 217 million viewers in the U.S. alone tuned in to the London Olympics four years ago, making it the most watched TV event in history. The television audience is expected to increase for the Rio Olympics, which formally open Friday. Others will tune in online or watch the games in person in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

That makes the Olympics an excellent showcase for new and emerging technologies. Such brands as Visa and Samsung are taking the opportunity to show off their wares.

Visa's Payment Ring

Visa, a 30-year Olympics sponsor, is running the payment systems at the Olympics. Visa is equipping about 4,000 payment terminals at souvenir shops, concession stands and other Olympic venues with a wireless technology called near-field-communication, or NFC. It's the technology that powers mobile-payment services such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, though only Samsung's has launched in Brazil.

Visa is giving payments rings to 59 athletes to wear on their fingers. With a tap on an NFC payment terminal, they can charge their Visa accounts. Giving the ring to Olympic athletes like swimmer Missy Franklin and decathlete Ashton Eaton lets Visa test the technology, while garnering buzz as athletes tweet about them and wear them around the Olympic village.

Samsung's Special Edition Galaxy

Samsung, another Olympic sponsor, is delivering a special Olympic Games edition of its Galaxy S7 Edge phone to 12,500 Olympians. The phone is branded with the Olympic rings and has Olympics-themed wallpapers loaded on the device. The company also made 2,016 of the Olympic phones for the public to buy in selected countries, including Brazil, the U.S. and South Korea.

One feature Samsung expects to make a splash: The phones will come with a flag app, which athletes will be...

Comments are closed.