Odaiba Bay: the view from the Team GB performance lodge

Immersive technology helps Team GB athletes go for Gold

As the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games get underway, we look back at how University of Hull immersive technology helped athletes prepare for Tokyo 2020.

Team GB athletes were able to get one step ahead of the competition and familiarise themselves with facilities at the Olympic Games in advance of their arrival in Tokyo – thanks to immersive technology from the University of Hull and its subsidiary company, Lampada.

The University, in collaboration with Hull-based Lampada Digital Solutions, created 360˚ virtual environments to help drive Team GB athlete performance and preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The videos brought to life the pre-Games training camp and the different facilities available at the Team GB Performance Lodge. These included the lounge and dining area, physio space, performance gym, technical gym and entrance area.

Odaiba Bay: the view from the Team GB performance lodge

Odaiba Bay: the view from the Team GB performance lodge and the location for the triathlon in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Team GB athletes could view the videos through VR headsets which were compatible with mobile phones.

The purpose of the project was to allow Team GB athletes to experience the venue before arriving in Tokyo. The goal was for athletes to know what to expect in order to to aid their performance by preparing them for their future environments.

Natalie, a third year Creative Music Technologies student, was given the opportunity to join the University project team in travelling to Tokyo in December 2019. She said: “They were looking for a student to help with some 360˚ video and audio recordings – I had a good background in audio recordings.

“Tokyo was amazing and a one-of-a-kind opportunity. I hadn’t used a 360˚ camera before, so that was good experience. It will definitely be unique and stand out to employers.” Natalie, a third year Creative Music Technologies student

Over 1000 members of the Team GB delegation, including Team GB athletes and performance staff members, could access the software to experience the environment in Tokyo ahead of the Games. This included Team GB’s most successful gymnast and the University’s Team GB ambassador; Max Whitlock MBE.

Max said: “If you have never been to an Olympics before you don’t know what these environments are like.

“There could be a lot of athletes who are very young and very inexperienced in some areas and may feel anxious about going into different environments. If they are in that position, they can have a look at this, get that experience and actually feel like once they step through those doors they know where everything is, and that’s quite cool.

“It could help people keep a lot calmer and feel a lot more at ease when they go around the different environments.”

The project was first proposed by Jason Hayhurst and Dr Andrew King from the Faculty of Arts, Culture and Education at the University. It was delivered by Lampada whose skills and expertise in developing videos helped achieve the 360˚ immersive surroundings.

The Team GB Performance Lodge was located within Odaiba Gakuen School. Here the University project team were able to visit and produce panoramic footage of each area. This footage was then modelled to replicate how it would appear when Team GB arrived.

The team had to include items such as gym mats, posters, gym equipment and flags.

Odaiba Bay: the view from the Team GB performance lodge

The lodge – which was used by athletes to train, recover, rest and eat – was modelled as a virtual environment to help Team GB athletes prepare for the Games

Tim Ellerton, the Commercial Director at the British Olympic Association, said: “We are really proud to work with the University of Hull to deliver innovative projects which have a direct impact on our athlete performance. Thank you for showing such commitment to our team.”

Since completion, the technology has become part of the athlete education programme, designed to help athletes prepare for the Games.

The University of Hull is an official partner of Team GB – incorporating both the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Olympic Games, and the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

The partnership provides opportunities for the University of Hull’s students, staff and communities, including participating in Team GB events, developing courses, guest speakers and CV-boosting opportunities such as work experience and volunteering.

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