Omega and their Olympic history of timekeeping
Since 1932, Omega has been the official timekeeper of the Olympics, with 2018 marking the Swiss watchmaker’s 28th time keeping score of the elite games. Omega have confirmed that it will continue its timekeeping legacy through 20132 to mark a full 100 years as the official timekeeper of the Olympics. At the original time of choosing a timekeeper, Omega were selected because the Olympic International Committee needed to have a single company providing timekeeping services to all sports, with certified chronographs.
The original form of timekeeping was done using stopwatches but technology has significantly evolved and now there are computers everywhere to record the time throughout the games. Historically, it has always taken some time to introduce new technology into sports; it took Omega almost two decades to utilise electronic timekeeping as a main system, instead of hand-stopped timekeeping. Today, it doesn’t take anywhere near as long but the development process can still take a few years from initial concept to final execution of the technology.
Omega and the Olympics rely heavily on engineers and its timekeepers. Timekeepers use the latest technology every day at a variety of competitions throughout the year, so they know their sports well and will provide valuable insight into how improvements can be made. The most important part of developing timekeeping technology is that there is a benefit to the athlete. The accuracy needs to be 100% and anything less than this cannot be introduced. There can be no element of doubt; especially during the Olympics.
This year’s Olympics in Pyeongchang saw exciting and new technology developments. Omega put sensors on the athletes to measure their performance between the start and finish. This allowed athletes and timekeepers to know the exact time they won or lost the competition. For example, during Alpine Skiing, there will be a small tag attached to the athlete’s boot that will measure up to 2000 difference pieces of data per second. The athletes can use this data as soon as they pass the finish line and the data can be shared with spectators in the stadium and those watching on TV.
There’s even cutting edge new timing technology in Bobsledding. There’s a small device placed inside the sled that allows an instant measurement of the position of the sled on the track, the speed, the acceleration and brake and the ability to compare sleds to others on the track. Advancements have even been made in Ice Hockey, where for the first time the players will be wearing a tag at the back of their shirts, which can provide live game analysis and even track the puck.
Despite the incredible advancements in timekeeping technology, there are still improvements to be made. Time will always remain the same; it’s just about increasing our understanding of what is happening during a window of time.