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Technologies Used at the Beijing Olympics


A woman looks at her phone as she passes an Olympic logo inside the main media center for the Beijing Winter Olympics Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Technologies Used at the Beijing Olympics
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As the Winter Olympic Games continue in China, here are some of the different technologies being used in Beijing.

Robots

A series of different kinds of robots have been deployed to assist visitors and athletes. Some machines are being used to enforce social distancing requirements related to COVID-19.

Robots are also transporting equipment, cleaning surfaces and preparing and carrying food to limit human-to-human contact. “Smart” waste containers are also being used, as well as machines that can make and serve alcoholic drinks and coffee.

A worker and a robot clean the floor of the main media center ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A worker and a robot clean the floor of the main media center ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Smart beds

At the Winter Olympic Village, the athletes are sleeping on “smart beds” equipped with sensors. The devices collect information on things like breathing and heart rates. They also have controls to permit users to choose different sleeping positions, including one called “zero gravity.” That setting is supposed to reduce pressure on muscles and joints and support higher quality sleep.

These high-tech beds are very different from the lower-tech versions provided for Olympic athletes at last year’s Tokyo Games. The beds used in Japan – which received wide attention for being so unusual – were made of cardboard material for environmental reasons.

A man takes off his shoes in a sleeping pod at the main media center ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A man takes off his shoes in a sleeping pod at the main media center ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Members of the media in Beijing can try out the same beds the athletes are using in special “sleep rest cabins.” The cabins, or containers, permit reporters to enter and rest for up to an hour. The cabins are fully cleaned after each use.

Digital currency

China’s digital money will be in use at the Olympics in the currency’s first major test with foreigners. Visitors will be able to use digital yuan to pay for food, transportation and other goods and services. Users can get the currency by downloading an app, getting a digital yuan card or by exchanging foreign currency into digital form through machines in Olympic areas.

Over the past few years, China has carried out tests with digital money in major cities. The Chinese government has said that so far, the digital currency has been used in about $13.8 billion worth of financial transactions.

App monitoring

All Olympic attendees must use an app, called MY2022, for daily monitoring for COVID-19. The app permits users to send personal health information every day as a requirement to take part in the Games. The system is part of China’s aggressive effort to limit the spread of the virus during the Games.

Canadian technician Matthew Potvin reaches for his lunch delivered to him robotically in the dining area of the main media center at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Canadian technician Matthew Potvin reaches for his lunch delivered to him robotically in the dining area of the main media center at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

But a Canadian organization that monitors internet security said in a report released last month that the MY2022 app contains major security weaknesses. The security problems could lead to private user information being exposed, Toronto-based Citizen Lab said. This could include sensitive information such as passport details and medical and travel history, the group said.

The report said the app does not effectively protect such information. This means it is possible it could be read by Chinese internet service providers or telecommunications companies through Wi-Fi “hotspots” at hotels, airports and places holding Olympic competitions.

The app also permits users to report “politically sensitive” content, Citizen Lab reported. And it includes a “censorship keyword list.” The group said the list can identify different political subjects, including Chinese policies in Xinjiang and Tibet, as well as naming government agencies.

A worker opens the door of a delivery robot at the Main Distribution Center built to provide logistic support for the Beijing Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A worker opens the door of a delivery robot at the Main Distribution Center built to provide logistic support for the Beijing Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Personal device warning

Because of security and privacy questions, cybersecurity company Internet 2.0 advised attendees to buy and take a new phone with them to use while in China. The company said this move can protect a user’s personal information that is stored on their normal phone. Visitors were also urged to create a new email address and browser account on the temporary phone for use in China.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Reuters, The Associated Press, VOA News and online sources.

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Words in This Story

athlete – n. a person who is trained in or good at sports, games, or exercises that require physical skill and strength

cardboard – n. thick, strong paper that is often used to make boxes

appn. a computer program that performs a special function, usually found on mobile phones

transactionn. a business deal : an occurrence in which goods, services, or money are passed from one person, account, etc., to another

monitor – v. to watch something carefully and record the results

exposev. to remove what is covering or protecting something

censorshipn. the system or practice of censoring books, movies, letters, etc.

browser – n. a computer program that permits you to look at pages on the internet

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