China touts tech prowess at Winter Olympics closing ceremony
Every Olympics ends with a brief opportunity for the next host to give a preview of what their games will be like.
In 2008, London brought a double-decker bus to Beijing with David Beckham. Two years ago, Japan’s prime minister dressed up as Nintendo’s Mario in Rio.
Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics, and for their part of PyeongChang’s closing ceremony, they brought glowing pandas in a display that state media said “incorporated many high-tech elements.”
Two skaters were inside the 7-foot-tall LED-filled panda costumes, but they each weighed just 10kg. The team said they tested hundreds of materials to bring the weight down from more than 70kg in the first design. The glowing pandas triggered plenty of comparisons on social media to the classic 80’s film Tron.
In the center of the stage were a series of displays called “ice screens” in Chinese. They’re transparent LED screens showing Chinese landmarks like the National Stadium and high-speed railways.
At the bottom of these screens are 24 robotic bases that moved around with the skaters. The company that made these robots said in a post that they used lasers to navigate by themselves around the stage.
The segment was directed by famous Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, who said in an interview that incorporating technology in a stage performance was challenging because they had to ensure the machines wouldn’t make any mistakes. “What’s different from previous shows is not the fact that we used AI, but presenting it perfectly speaks about what the country is capable of.”