As Beijing prepares to close the 2022 Winter Olympics, TechNode selects five notable pieces of technology built by Chinese companies that left an impression during the two-week games.

Two Chinese display manufacturers, Leyard and BOE, supplied the floor display screen for the opening ceremony. BOE also provided power-saving athlete nametags. Baidu Cloud and other startups developed a virtual host to translate sign language. Alibaba Cloud provided high-definition panoramic footage for selected games. Remote-controlled beds built by Chinese company Keeson became a social media hit during the game, while iFlytek provided live translation services with a 95% accuracy rate. 

8K floor display

For the Feb. 4 opening ceremony, Chinese display maker Leyard and BOE supplied most of the screens used in the 100-minute program. Leyard, which was also the supplier for Beijing Olympics in 2008, provided most of the displays used in the ceremony. On the other hand, BOE designed the giant snowflake and the rest of the floor display.

Illustration of the display system in Olympic ceremony.
A detailed breakdown of makers of all display systems appeared in the 2022 Winter Olympic opening ceremony. Credit: Leyard

The two companies together supplied a ground screen system with 8K resolution. The ground display covered 10,393 square meters (largest in the world) with 8K resolution, 100,000:1 ultra-high contrast (100 times the average display), and a 3840Hz refresh rate (30 times the average).

BOE also built a power-saving nametag that could charge via phone. The tag is an E-ink screen, which consumes little power for its feature. E-ink requires power only when users need to change the display content, and it tends to have a longer battery life than traditional smartphone screens. The tag does not contain a battery. Instead, it charges wirelessly through phones, using near-field communication tech, which comes with most smartphones.

Another unique part of this name tag is that the screen could display red color, while the traditional E-ink screen displays only black and white colors. In addition, the tag could display more vivid content with three colors.

Virtual host

China’s state broadcaster CCTV developed a virtual host named “Ling Yu” to translate sign language with Chinese tech companies Baidu Cloud, Zhipu AI, and Luster. Zhipu and Luster are artificial intelligence startups. Zhipu mainly develops virtual humans and enhances them with AI and data, while Luster focuses on computer vision and imaging, giving the virtual host a presentable look. The sign-language translator has an elegant look, appearing on all CCTV broadcasts.

Virtual host for sign language translation.
Virtual host for sign language translation. Credit: Weibo/China Media Group Mobile

Virtual humans have gained great popularity in the investing circle and are seen by some companies as an essential part of the metaverse.

Cloud-backed live broadcast and panoramic game views 

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud service unit of the Chinese e-commerce giant, supplied live game footage for the Olympic games. The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics chose to store and transfer live footage through cloud services rather than traditional transmission methods, the second Olympics to do so, after the 2021 Tokyo summer games. The cloud system eliminated the need for media outlets to bring in satellite news trucks and customized networks. 

The cloud unit also provided special panoramic views in curling and speed-skating games. The view allowed users to adjust the point of view in a 360-degree panoramic video. Called the bullet time, the visual impression is named after the science fiction cult movie “The Matrix” and gives viewers an immersive experience. 

An example of the high-definition panoramic video from the 2022 Winter Olympics.
An example of the high-definition panoramic video from the 2022 Winter Olympics. Credit: Weibo/Migu

Alibaba Cloud delivered more than 6,000 hours of live footage via its cloud system to media outlets worldwide. The cloud subsidiary became the International Olympic Committee’s exclusive cloud network provider in 2017. 

Remote-controlled smart beds

Chinese company Keeson supplied 7,000 smart beds for the Olympic Village. These beds come with a foam mattress and a remote controller with eight functions, allowing athletes to easily change sleeping positions and mattress support levels.

US luge athlete Summer Britcher helped create an online discussion about the bed when she uploaded a TikTok video comparing the bed’s comfort level with the cardboard bed used in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Village. Britcher called the smart bed’s Zero-G mode “phenomenal.” The bed-maker Keeson said the Zero-G mode adjusts the level of the head area a little lower than the foot area, minimizing heart pressure and helping people to relax. 

Keeson delivers more than 90% of its products to overseas, including North America and Europe. 

Highly-accurate live translation

Chinese voice recognition company iFlytek provided full translation services for the games, with portable translation terminals, recording pens, remote meeting systems, and more.

An example of the high-definition panoramic video from the 2022 Winter Olympics.
An example of the high-definition panoramic video from the 2022 Winter Olympics. Credit: Weibo/Migu

The company’s service can translate more than 60 languages in verbal communication, including voice recognition and synthesis, according to the company’s announcement. The system can imitate a human-like voice when translating verbally using voice synthesis technology while using voice recognition to help the machines to understand human language. The company said it can achieve up to 95% accuracy when translating between Chinese and other major languages. For context, Google translation has an average accuracy of 81.7% when translating between Chinese and other languages in medical situations, according to a study conducted by the UCLA Medical Center and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Ward Zhou is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. He covers stories about industry of digital content, hardware, and anything geek. Reach him via ward.zhou[a] or Twitter @zhounanyu.