Alibaba Group unveiled a cloud-powered platform designed to support real-time communication at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, bringing people closer together despite travel restrictions.
The platform, dubbed Cloud ME, allows people in multiple locations to interact using life-sized 3D projections with low latency. All data transmission is run entirely on the cloud.
“Alibaba is committed to the digitalization of the Olympic Games, and providing the technology infrastructure to promote a more inclusive and engaging experience,” said Daniel Zhang, Chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group.
Making Sports Inclusive
The pandemic has upended all areas of life, and sports are no exception. The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 is taking place inside a bubble that separates participants from the general public as the Omicron variant spreads.
To ease communication and interaction with outside the bubble, cameras take live recordings and transmit the data over the cloud network to project images live onto a remote 4K high-definition screen.
The result is a high-definition reconstruction of the person communicating, down to minute details from the smallest hand gestures to the texture of their clothing, Alibaba said.
This technology was first used to power a remote meeting between Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and Daniel Zhang on Sunday. An in-person meeting would have been difficult due to social distancing restrictions in force in China.
In the coming weeks, participants and fans of the Olympic Games can try out the technology at pop-up Cloud ME booths in the Olympic Games venues, both inside and outside the bubble.
Real-time Communication on the Cloud
All videos and audios produced by Cloud ME are transmitted on Alibaba’s cloud computing arm Alibaba Cloud.
Powered by cloud computing capabilities, Cloud ME takes only 0.2 seconds to make the 3D projections, enabling people to broadcast live.
Without cloud technology, maintaining this processing speed would be impossible. On a typical desktop workstation, it can take much longer to process large video files.
Looking beyond quick visual processing, the cloud technology powering Cloud ME also holds the key to all-immersive digital tools with mixed-reality applications.
The International Data Corporation estimates that worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality will accelerate through 2024, growing from just over $12 billion in 2020 to $72.8 billion in 2024.
Thanks to cloud computing, people anywhere can tune into meetings without additional infrastructure or high internet bandwidth, Alibaba said.
“We aim to bring the benefits of real-time communication to various day-to-day scenarios, including online education, interactive entertainment, video conferencing and other enterprise services,” said Chen Lijuan, general manager of Product and Solution at Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.