Vision at the Sochi Olympics

Vision and the Olympics

Hockey aside (Go USA), I am just as much interested in the non-event stories on the Sochi Olympics than I am the actual competition. Olympic Village rumors, hotel horror stories, and stray dog roundups are just some of the highlights I’ve come across. Anyway, I recently found myself perusing through some of these stories, and came across a few vision-related items I found interesting.

First is this image of what the Winter Olympics look like from space at night. An expedition 38 crew member aboard the International Space Station took a vertical 600mm night view of Sochi.  This impressive image really gives you an idea of the size and scope of the Olympics, which I thought was very cool. The large, bright circular building in the image is the Fisht Stadium, where the opening ceremony was held. In addition, the Sochi Airport is in the center of the frame. And if you were curious, the street lighting in Sochi is what gives the image its orange hue.

The second thing I wanted to mention (the photo above) which by now you’ve realized is not an image of Sochi from space, is the 20-foot-tall Megafon automated “pin screen,” where visitors can get their picture taken and then see it portrayed on the giant morphing wall. It’s very similar to that toy you have probably seen before, the one where you put your hand or face on the back of the metal pins and see the imprint on the other side? You know, this one.

Anyway, it works by having a visitor go into a photo booth where a five-camera array generates a 3D image of each person’s face. The image is then processed for the façade and rendered with 11,000 pistons, each acting as its own LED-tipped pixel. Visitors receive a QR code to scan that lets them know when they can expect to see their face represented on the screen.

The technology and capability of the system is so advanced that its designer, Asif Khan, says it was scaled back.

"We had to pull that back a bit," Khan said in the Wired article. "It looked like a giant was there. I mean, it was really scary."

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