Skip to main content


Game-Changing Tech Takes Event Experience to the Next Level

Sarah Vickers

Pulling off an event like the Olympic and Paralympic Games involves intricate behind-the-scenes work. From connecting people through private 5G platforms to creating virtual experiences and using AI and digital twins for planning and execution, expertise and reliable partnerships are crucial.

This podcast explores how advanced technology is leveraged to create interactive and immersive event experiences, the essential partnerships involved, and a forward-looking perspective on future innovations in event management.

Listen Here

Apple Podcasts      Spotify      Amazon Music

Our Guest: Intel

Our guest this episode is Sarah Vickers, Head of the Olympic and Paralympic Program at Intel. Sarah has been working on Intel’s Olympic and Paralympic program for about seven years. She’s responsible for all aspects of the games, including operations, guest experience, and ecosystem support.

Podcast Topics

Sarah answers our questions about:

  • 1:13 – Intel’s involvement in the Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • 2:58 – Event preparation before, during, and after the event
  • 7:01 – The process of launching a large-scale event experience
  • 8:32 – What happens with all the data after the event
  • 10:31 – New technology innovations for event experiences
  • 11:58 – The value of Intel’s ecosystem and partnerships
  • 12:48 – Applying Intel technology beyond the Olympics

Related Content

To learn more about technology powering event experiences, read AI Technology Brings Gold-Medal Event Experiences. For the latest innovations from Intel, follow them on Twitter at @Intel and on LinkedIn.


Christina Cardoza: Hello, and welcome to Talk, formerly known as “IoT Chat”, but with the same high-quality conversations around Internet of Things, technology trends, and the latest innovations you’ve come to know and love. I’m your host, Christina Cardoza, Editorial Director of And today we’re going to be talking about how technology can uplevel event experiences with Sarah Vickers from Intel.

But as always before we get started, let’s get to know our guest. Hi, Sarah. Thanks for joining us.

Sarah Vickers: Hi, it’s great to be here.

Christina Cardoza: What can you tell us about yourself and what you do at Intel?

Sarah Vickers: So, I’ve been with Intel about nine years, but I’ve been working on our Olympic and Paralympic program for about seven. Currently I’m responsible for all aspects of our Olympic program, which includes games operations, our guest experience, and anything to support the ecosystem.

Christina Cardoza: Great. And of course, the Olympic and Paralympic Games are happening in Paris soon. So, very exciting. I wanted to start the conversation around there. We’re going to be talking about event experiences, but since the Olympics is such a timely event, I wanted to see if you could give us an overview of Intel’s involvement at the event. What motivated you guys to become a technology partner? You said you’ve been doing it for the last couple of years, so how has it evolved?

Sarah Vickers: Sure. One of the things that Intel loves about the Games, is that it is really the largest sporting event, and most complex sporting event, on Earth and has billions of watchers around the world. So it’s a really exciting opportunity for us to demonstrate Intel’s technology leadership in a really scalable way.

We’re not doing this to have proofs of concept; we’re actually integrating our technology to help with the success of the Games. And we think about that in a variety of ways, because there’s so many different aspects to call a Game successful. You’ve got the really complex operations to deliver the Games—moving athletes and fans and volunteers around, getting people from A to B. That’s complex in itself, but do that across 17 days across so many sports. It’s super complex.

You’ve got the broadcast experience—so, billions of people watching at home. That’s just evolved and become more complex when you think about all the different devices and how people consume media. So we do a lot of applications working with Olympic Broadcasting Services to deliver outstanding experiences based on Intel technology.

You’ve got the fan experience, whether that be, again, operationally, ease of getting around, versus actually how do you entertain during the Games. The sports itself provide great sense of entertainment, but there’s all that in-between time. What can we do to help them make that experience even better?

Christina Cardoza: And you talked about how this is such a large event over the course of a couple of days. I can imagine how complex it is during those days, but how is Intel technology being used behind the scenes—not only during the event itself, but how are you preparing before the event, making sure everything is up and running and it’s a smooth experience? And then what happens after the event? Because I’m sure it’s not just for the actual live sessions.

Sarah Vickers: We start working on the Games years before, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), with the International Paralympic Committee, the organizing committee—in this case, Paris 2024—to really try to understand what are we trying to solve? How can we take what we’ve done in the past and make it better? Or, what are the new challenges that have evolved since the last Games?

So we really work it as a partnership and really think about what are we trying to do. We have taken solutions that we’ve done in Tokyo and made them better. So, in a good example of that is we do what we’re calling digital twinning. Digital twinning is the opportunity to look and have a digital twin of all the venues and really understand what the venues are going to be like in a 3D way.

How this helps is, if you think about broadcasters, they really need to understand where camera placement’s going to be and how that’s impacted by different things. If you think about the transition from the Olympic Games to the Paralympic Games, you’ve got a lot of changes that you need to do for accessibility and things like that for the athletes. This makes it possible to do those things in advance, rather than doing it as it happens and figuring out, oh, this solution actually doesn’t work.

So there’s a lot of benefit to that, as well as just the opportunity to reduce travel. You can do it from anywhere, you can do it from your PC. So it makes it really easy. Another use case that we’re helping out with, from an operational perspective, is really just understanding the data. So there’s a lot of people behind the scenes, right? If you think about all the media that’s on the ground, all the workforce, we’re helping the International Olympic Committee and Paris 2024 understand that people movement to optimize facilities for them.

So that could be either making sure that we’ve got the right occupancy levels, making sure that people have the right exits and entries—really using that data to make real-time decisions based on that data. But what that also does is it helps inform the next Games because they’ve got a base set of data that they can use to help model and plan for those complicated situations.

A final example that I’ll give, just from an operational perspective, is on the athletes’ side. This is the athletes’ moment. For some of them it’s the highest moment in their career. And really what you want to do is make it as uncomplicated as possible. You want them to be able to focus on their performance and not think about the things that they have to think about to get to that performance. So whether that be food, whether that be transportation, whether that be accommodations—there’s so many different things while they’re there that they need to think about.

We’ve worked with the IOC, and we’re implementing a chatbot for them for these Games. So, really a chatbot based on our AI technology platforms. What that’s going to do is it’s going to enable athletes to ask questions, get conversational answers about day-to-day things. And that will continue to get smarter as we get more answers and understand what’s working. So that’s going to be used throughout the Games, which I think is going to be a game changer for athletes.

Christina Cardoza: Yeah, absolutely. And talking about things getting smarter, I think it’s probably so exciting to see how technology has evolved over the last couple of years, and now you’re able to leverage all of these new tools to help make the Games better.

You mentioned digital twins. I’m sure you are using some Intel® SceneScape behind the scenes. And then there’s all this AI and all the processors that Intel has to really make everything, like you mentioned, real time: make sense of the data, make sure that you can make informed decisions in real time. And all of this, I’m sure, is happening at the edge so it is low latency and we’re getting all this information as quick as possible.

You said you guys start preparing for the Games years in advance. I’m sure there’s a lot of planning and preparation that goes into this. Just looking at not only how are we going to integrate all this technology and make it make sense and eliminate some of the silos, but what it looks like during the event, what it looks like after the event. So, how do you start off years in advance? Walk me through the process of getting from: the Games are coming up, this is how we prepare, and then this is how we launch it.

Sarah Vickers: Really what we do is we sit down and say, “What are the things that need to be delivered?” Right? There’s a set of expectations for every Games, and then there’s that set of expectations of what do we want to do that’s different? And it’s really a process where we sit down and we ask those questions: both, what are you trying to solve, what are you worried about; and what are the things that need to happen?

And then we do an assessment and say, “How can Intel’s technology help?” And we work very closely with a number of partners to try to figure that out. Then we develop a roadmap of solutions. And then we have—for each roadmap of solutions,—it’s typical technology integration, where then we have a plan and a PM that works closely with those stakeholders to deliver that.

Some of those solutions are delivered in advance. So, digital twinning for example, that’s not really—the benefit of that is not during the Games. The benefit is really before the Games and months before the Games. So that solution’s been being used over a big period of time. And then you’ve got other solutions that are obviously for during the Games. So it really depends on the technology integration of what that process looks like. And then hopefully during the Games everything goes smoothly, and we just can enjoy it and watch our technology shine. But we have staff on site to make sure that everything runs smoothly and goes off without a hitch.

Christina Cardoza: Is there anything that happens after the Games? Any more work that’s being done on Intel’s side to make sure that if there were recorded sessions or recorded games, or anything that we point to post-event?

Sarah Vickers: I think if you think about what happens for the Games, there’s so much data, right? So there’s so much data, and data means so many different things. So you’ve got content, right? When you’ve got broadcast data, you’ve got all the highlights and all those things that are being done. You’ve got all the data that we’re helping the IOC collect to understand people movement and things like that. So that data is definitely being used to help plan the next set of Games. When you think about broadcast, that broadcast information is being used to create models and understand for future Games as well, or future entertainment.

One of the really interesting use cases that we’re working on with Olympic Broadcasting Services is AI highlights. We are actually creating highlights using artificial intelligence platforms, and that’s going to help create highlights that just weren’t possible before because they were all generated by people, and there were only a certain amount of people that could do that over time.

But if you think about what we talked about earlier, where how people consume broadcast is changing, people are much more demanding on their expectations of broadcast and want things that are a little more personalized. And you’ve got 206 different countries participating in the Games, multiple languages, multiple sports. And there’s countries where certain sports are really important and that aren’t important—some of the bigger countries that you would see that usually dominate this space.

So what the AI highlights can do is generate highlights that are really customized based on certain things. This is really exciting, and we’re going to see this evolve over time, because what will happen is the models will learn over time and they’ll get smarter, and then you’re going to have even better and more awesome highlights for the fans.

Christina Cardoza: Yeah, I was going to ask if there were any lessons learned that you have experienced over the last couple of years that you’re bringing into this event, or if there’s any new technologies and innovations out there that you’re excited to use. It sounds like it’s AI and digital twinning this year. Is there anything you wanted to add to that?

Sarah Vickers: I mean, I think when you think about AI and Intel and the whole idea behind “AI Everywhere,” really this is really excellent grounds to demonstrate how Intel’s AI platforms will really change a lot of aspects of the Games. So we’re really excited about a lot of our activations that are demonstrating what we can do with AI, and I think what’s happened over time is just technology and AI have gotten smarter; it’s becoming more mainstream. So you’re just going to see more of that, because that’s what the expectations are. And we can use that data—the compute is possible now—to build those models. So we’re going to have a lot of different AI applications throughout the Games.

Christina Cardoza: It’s interesting looking at an event at such a global scale, because at we write a lot about Intel® Partner Alliance members, how they partner together with Intel to make various different things happen: digital signage in stores, the data analytics, the cameras, the people occupancy. It sounds like all of this is happening at the event. So, all of these technologies that we’ve been talking about, that our partners are working with Intel to make happen, it’s such a scale that it’s this end-to-end solution. Everything is happening at the Olympics: the networking, the real-time analytics, everything at the edge.

So I’m curious, what is the value of Intel’s ecosystem and the partnership to make something like the Olympics and the Paralympics happen?

Sarah Vickers: Intel doesn’t do things alone, right? Like you said, we rely on strong partnerships to help deliver that. We really work and try to understand what solution is best and then work with that ecosystem to help deliver that. And that can be a variety of types of partners. So, we have the lucky opportunity to work with some other top Olympic partners, and then we work through some of our other partners at the local level, and we work across our ecosystem to help make this happen. We definitely cannot do it alone.

Christina Cardoza: And of course we’ve been talking about all of this technology in context of the Olympics and Paralympic Games, but there are other events and other use cases I think some of this could be applied to. So I’m curious, how can Intel technology be used beyond the Olympics? What are some other industries or sectors that you see some of the things that you’ve been doing to prepare during, before, and after the event in other areas?

Sarah Vickers: Sure. I think there’s—almost every application that we have—there’s an application for that both at other events, but also beyond sport. So I think the way we think about it is, how does this demonstrate what we can do, and then how does that scale?

I’ll give another example of a use case that we’re doing that’s a really fun application of AI platforms, which is really what we’re calling AI Talent Identification. We are using AI to do biomechanical analysis to help fans that are going to be at athletics and rugby understand which Olympic sport they’re most aligned to. So they’re going to do a bunch of fun exercises, we’re going to mash up that data, and then tell them, “Okay, you are most likely to do this.” And that’s just a fun application of AI.

But if you think about what that biomechanical analysis can do, that can be used in a variety of ways. If you think about physiotherapy, if you think about occupational health, there’s a lot of different ways that this can help improve people’s lifestyles that you can use this same application. You think about digital twinning—that application has gone beyond, and you’re seeing a lot of that in manufacturing, in cities, in all of these different aspects that this type of technology will have that opportunity to help benefit the outcome of whatever their goals may be.

Christina Cardoza: Yeah.  That reminds me of the demo Pat Gelsinger did last year at Intel Innovation, where he was trying to—I believe it was being a soccer player and learn how he could improve his skills using AI and some of these biometrics. So it’s great to see that from last year how it’s advancing, and how it can actually be used in the real world, and how it is actually being implemented in some of these areas. So, exciting to see this technology.

I’m curious—I know we’ve covered a lot about the Olympic Games, are there any key takeaways that you think our listeners should know about doing an event at such scale using Intel technology? Any final thoughts you want to leave us with today?

Sarah Vickers: The Games are going to be a massive event, and in this post-pandemic era I think we’re all excited to see the Games back to their glory, where there’ll be fans in the stands. It’s really exciting, but it’s obviously very complex. Paris is a giant, complicated city without an Olympic Games or Paralympic Games, and so bringing that on is going to be really hard. But by working with Intel and trusting with your partners we can help develop the solutions to deliver an amazing Games. And we’re really excited to be a partner of the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee to help make these Games the best yet.

Christina Cardoza: Absolutely. Well, I can’t wait to see the Games in action and some of this Intel technology we’ve been talking about. I invite all of our listeners, if you have any questions, or are looking to partner with Intel and leverage some of this technology in your own event experiences, to visit the Intel website and to keep up to date on where we’ll be continuing to cover some of Intel’s partners and what Intel is doing in this space.

So I want to thank you again, Sarah, for joining the podcast today, as well as our listeners. Until next time, this has been “ Talk.”

The preceding transcript is provided to ensure accessibility and is intended to accurately capture an informal conversation. The transcript may contain improper uses of trademarked terms and as such should not be used for any other purposes. For more information, please see the Intel® trademark information.

This transcript was edited by Erin Noble, copy editor.

About the Author

Christina Cardoza is an Editorial Director for Previously, she was the News Editor of the software development magazine SD Times and IT operations online publication ITOps Times. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Stony Brook University, and has been writing about software development and technology throughout her entire career.

Profile Photo of Christina Cardoza