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Billions all over the world will be sitting down in front of their screens a year today to watch the opening ceremony of the 32nd Summer Olympics, which starts in Tokyo on the penultimate Friday of July. Each Olympics brings something new in terms of both sporting endeavour and the spectacle of the opening ceremony. However, the event also serves as an opportunity to demonstrate the host country’s position in the world. Japan has promised to make its Olympics the most technologically advanced ever, so what should we expect?

1: Robots. Toyota unveiled earlier this week five robots it will be bringing to the games, each of which in some way will help either athletes or attendees at venues have a superior experience. The robots will be skilled in terms of providing information, bringing food & drink and even carrying equipment (a robotic carrier will, for example, retrieve thrown javelins, balls and so on). 

2: Cashless payments. While Japan has one of the highest levels of robotic penetration in the world (i.e. robots per inhabitant ratio), it has one of the lowest levels of digital payment acceptance. Japanese society has historically relied on cash. This is all set to change. Visa (one of the sponsors of the Olympics) has been actively working with businesses including quick service restaurants, convenience stores and transportation organisation to grow digital acceptance. Currently some 20% of payments in Japan are transacted digitally; by 2025, the Japanese Government has said it wants this figure to be 40%.

3: Facial recognition. Japanese authorities are working on a range of use cases for facial recognition technologies to be implemented. Entry into stadia will likely be accelerated via this method, with security also improved. Elsewhere, taxis in Japan increasingly are scanning customers’ faces and then subsequently serving them advertisements tailored to their background.

Next summer promises to be very exciting in more ways than just sport. Watch this space.

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