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Volume 24 No. 114
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Intel House Showcases Tech Sponsor’s Olympic Flexibility

Intel’s Olympic sponsorship stood out from the pack from the moment SportsBusiness Daily first broke the news, for one key reason: It lacked a traditional, singular category. The idea was to promote a diverse range of tech products that enhance the sports-viewing experience and convince customers it could help them make giant leaps in their computing ability.

The Intel House in Gangneung
Photo: Ben Fischer

That same loose confederation of sales pitches is on display at Intel’s showcase in Gangneung, South Korea, during the Winter Olympics this month.

Set in a three-story lodge near the Pacific coast found on short notice after the deal was done last summer, the Intel House is a blend of hospitality and product showcase. For instance, the top floor consists of an outdoor patio with heavy blankets for the bitter cold. Inside, there are drone displays — both heavy-duty professional drones that can take weeks and millions of dollars off infrastructure inspection, and lightweight ones that put on light shows.

The bottom floor was devoted to gaming, where visitors can try their hand at Steep, an IOC-licensed snowboarding game. The middle floor was the 5G floor, where Intel showed off its role in powering the next-generation mobile network that KT Corp., formerly Korea Telecom, is testing in certain sites.

Julie Coppernoll, chief operating officer of Olympics marketing, shows off a mobile network bay station with Intel hardware inside, which is submerged in mineral oil to protect it from the cold.
Photo: Ben Fischer

The unifying theme, to the extent there is one, is that Intel is necessary to taking the next step in computing, said Julie Coppernoll, chief operating officer of Olympics marketing. “It’s the art of what’s coming,” she said.

For instance, for self-driving cars to work in real life, there has to be a better network. The ever-increasing appetite for mobile video also demands a better network, and the Olympics is one massive video and data production exercise. Intel even got the extra benefit of having extreme cold to test its outdoor 5G support technology.

“Besides being on the ground in the Olympics and managing the weather — which was not the reason we picked the Olympics to showcase it — we picked it because you have huge processing of data, of video, of traffic,” Coppernoll said.

Anil Nanduri, Intel drone group vice president and general manager, demonstrates a drone to Christian Voigt, IOC vice president of marketing development.
Photo: Ben Fischer

Before leaving, I took a VR tour of the exterior Gothic German cathedral that’d been stitched together by images taken from Intel drones, at a fraction of the cost and risk of a human-led, hand inspection

One small touch that stood out at the house: Intel adopted the Korean custom of asking you to take your shoes off and wear slippers inside. My feet were toasty and cozy while I toured.