China’s tech giants lead ‘White Technology’ in winter sports

The Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games offered spectators immersive and entertaining experiences thanks to cutting-edge technology. The world can expect even more technological advancement in the coming Beijing 2022 Olympic Games, as China’s tech giants will look to get involved in the Games.

While the world is familiar with Black Technology and its specific cutting-edge innovations, the 8-minute video introduction to the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games showcases the ‘White Technology’ trend. This is the technology, mostly for spectators of winter sports at this stage, that heightens physical sensations and enables people’s participation. It also will promote the popularity of these winter sports among those who usually cannot access the games due to geographical and weather conditions.

The lucrative Chinese winter sports market will be worth RMB 600 billion (USD 94.8 billion) in 2020. And Chinese tech giants want to extend human senses and test how far technology can go in this direction. White Technology, which is different from purely profit-seeking projects like Wanda Group’s snow parks, makes use of AI and existing tech resources to enhance human experiences.

Now less than 1% of China’s population of 1.4 billion people participate in winter sports. White Technology hopes to change that and is already showing great power in promoting mass participation. In the 8-minute video introduction to Beijing 2022, over 110 million digital invitation letters were collected by Tencent to show Beijing’s warm welcome to winter-sports lovers all over the world.

As the only official internet service partner of the Chinese delegation for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, Tencent leveraged its strong data assets, social network infrastructure and machine learning to make an impact at this year’s Games. For example, Tencent AI Lab’s machine learning developed AI technology and not only tested its techniques but also created commercial value at the Games through the expansion of the Dreamwriter system that writes and distributes Olympic news in just three seconds. Furthermore, Tencent used AI-based voice recognition that provides simultaneous interpretation, which is already used in WeChat, to improve spectators’ experiences.

Tencent Sports acknowledges that the winter sports industry has entered an era where users’ needs play a vital part. As domestic demand strongly increases, technology companies must understand their users’ needs with respect to these sports in order to grow and thrive. We expect Tencent Sports to use its existing relationships with the National Hockey League, International Skating Union, Kontinental Hockey League and X-Games to test new fields for White Technology applications for both business operations and AI development.

Winter sports venues in Beijing 2022 co-host city Zhangjiakou see booming mass participation. Photo from 163.com

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games will foster the participation of over 300 million Chinese in winter sports, and this would significantly contribute to international Olympic development. None of the previous Winter Games were hosted by cities with populations over one million. The population of Beijing and its co-host city Zhangjiakou exceeds 25 million. It is reported that 650 skating rinks and 800 ski resorts will be built throughout China by 2022 with the support of the National Construction Plan of Winter Sports Infrastructure.

When it comes to modern technology and future trend, some complain that simple data calculation and algorithms are worsening social conditions and hurting human aesthetic values. However, White Technology will bring back people’s aesthetic sensibilities and heighten their experiences by offering technology solutions to viewing, listening, feeling and participating. White Technology does not refer to any specific knowledge and grants no privileges to any specific developers. The technology will help improve human experience as a whole in discovering the land of ice and snow. This will fit into the long-term interest of the IOC, as IOC President Bach said that he is determined to push the boundaries of the Olympic Games to the next level. He also noted that technology, such as big data and AI, can help athletes’ performance by monitoring their training progress to better prepare them for competition in the coming Olympic Games.

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games will very likely become a monument to White Technology’s progress. Considering Chinese tech giants’ recent moves in retail, entertainment, gaming and other fields, these extensive and sophisticated ecosystems will breed more experience services and products, such as VR White Technology gaming, winter sports health management, exclusive trips, and equipment production.

We look forward to watching Tencent’ and other Chinese giants’ performance.

(Top photo: the 8-minute video introduction to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games shown on the closing ceremony of Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Photo from vcg.com, authorized by Tencent)

Fiona Zhao
Fiona Zhao

Fiona writes for AllTechAsia. She has rich business experience across several industries in China. She holds a master's degree in Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Politics from The University of Manchester. Fiona is particularly interested in how technology and business combine to shape societies across the world.

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