A pre-peek on sustainability and innovation at Tokyo 2020

Tokyo will next year host the Olympic Games for the second time; the first time was in 1964, and it will also host the Paralympics Games for the first time. It was made official at the Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016, and since then have the Japanese...

Tokyo will next year host the Olympic Games for the second time; the first time was in 1964, and it will also host the Paralympics Games for the first time. It was made official at the Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016, and since then have the Japanese Government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) and companies, national as international, been planning on how to make the most of this event. The Games will take place in less than 225 days, making Tokyo, as well as Japan, the center of attention. It is an opportunity that both the public and private sector will use to show the world that Japan still is in the game and can deliver technological innovations and contribute to a more sustainable future.

The organization responsible for the Games, nationally, is called Tokyo 2020 and they have put up some impressive goals for the Games. One of them is to be the most environmentally sustainable Game ever preformed. It will partly be accomplished through;

  • A goal to achieve a total net-zero carbon emission from all the Games activities
  • Only using renewable energy to empower the Games activities (most of it will come from solar panels installed at the Games venues)
  • Most vehicles to be used will be of a fuel-efficient and low-pollution type (hydrogen energy and electricity will be utilized)
  • Focusing on the three R’s, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, when planning their purchases and resource usage
  • In their actions follow UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights (HR)
  • Raising awareness of Diversity and Inclusiveness (D&I)

Some of Tokyo 2020’s sustainable initiatives

  • Creating the Victory Ceremony Podium with recycled plastic; the plastic has been collected from Japanese households and they will also use ocean plastic debris. The Podium will after the Games be recycled by Procter & Gamble (P&G) and used for new plastic bottles.
  • All the medals for the Games will be made of recycled metal that has been obtained through urban mining of old digital devices, that has been donated by the Japanese citizens in the “Tokyo 2020 Medal project”. They were in total able to collect 32 kg Gold, 3,500 kg Silver, and 2,200 kg Bronze for the approximately 5,000 medals needed for the Games.
  • Creating the Olympic torch with 30 % aluminum from construction material used for evacuation houses at the Fukushima disaster in 2011.
  • Making the torchbearers’ uniforms of 15 % recycled plastic, gathered by Coca-Cola, approximately 10,000 uniforms will be made.

Tokyo will be a very interesting place to explore next year, both due to the Japanese culture, but also due to all the innovative products and services that will be presented and utilized in the city and for the Games. Some of these will be presented below but there are many more, some yet to be made public, and some that will be presented as a surprise to the market when the time comes.

Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) is the official worldwide mobility partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They will contribute to Tokyo 2020 with 5 different official vehicles and mobility devices, and two to three unofficial vehicles. They will in total deliver roughly 3,700 mobility products, where approximately 90 % will be electric vehicles.  Two of the more special ones are the e-Palette and APM (Accessible People Mover), both specially developed and designed for Tokyo 2020. e-Palette is an autonomous electric vehicle that will serve as a shuttle bus within the Olympic and Paralympic Village’s area. APM, is a low-speeded short-distance electric vehicle with the purpose to deal with last-mile transportation at the Games venues for those with accessibility needs.

Toyota will also contribute with the official robot fleet to the Games. The fleet is composed of a mix of different robot types; there are two mascot robots called Miraitowata and Someity who can interact with the visitors, two robots that focus on making more people feel like they are a part of the Games, even though they are not physically present at the Games, by visualize and communicate about the events in different ways to them, an autonomous supportive robot that will carry the equipment for the throwing events at the Games venues, and a robot-duo that will assist disabled people at the games venue by guiding them and serving them the food and beverage they ordered. However, many other companies will also deploy their robots in the city. Examples of this are SoftBank’s Pepper and Hitachi’s EMIEW3, robots that function as helpers since they can answer questions, give directions and react to people’s facial expressions.

The sports themselves will also interact with more technology at Tokyo 2020. Two programs that will be utilized to improve the judgment of athletes’ performance directly respectively indirectly. The direct one is Fujitsu Ltd.’s Judging support system, a system that through 3D laser sensors technology using AI, can provide 3D data of a performance in details. It has been developed for and will be used for the gymnastics competitions at the Games to supplement with what the judges can’t see with their own eyes. The more indirect judging program is Intel’s 3D Athlete Tracking (3DAT), which uses the technology system to show overlay visualizations and near real-time insights of performances. The program can also analyze the biomechanics of athletes’ movements and can provide viewers with detailed information.

The upcoming year’s Games have a special focus on sustainability, but also on “mobility for all”, as you might have understood by Toyotas grand contribution, and inclusiveness. They are driven to reach out to more people who in some way are limited to truly enjoy the Games to the fullest. One technology that will be used and address this is the Kirari! technology. It is an ultra-realistic communication technology, can capture everything at an event through cameras, microphones, and sensors, and recreate the event at another location, or as an overlap to create an effect. A recreated event can then be presented in 3D through projectors and speakers, you can then host the same event in two venues and make more people feel part of the event.

Japan is expecting the biggest tourist wave to hit them in the period around the Games. It will challenge them in many ways but also open up opportunities to try out new innovations. It will provide people with the chance to explore and become more familiar and comfortable with modern and future technology. If you have the pleasure to enjoy the spectacle here in Tokyo, or through social media and TV, try to think of what their technical solutions could mean for you in the future and let it inspire you.