By Wei Renmiao
More than 121 sci-tech achievements concerning barrier-free facilities and environment have gained increasing attention and popularity while greatly empowering competitions of the just-concluded Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, at which the Chinese delegation won a history-making number of medals.
These smart technologies used at the games are expected to embrace wide application in society to benefit the lives of people with disabilities, a win-win result for smart technologies and the Games.
Smart products have helped ensure high efficiency in the competitions of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics.
Chinese paralympic athletes’ uniforms emblazoned with China’s national flag, for instance, are customized products that show warm solicitude for athletes and the ingenuity of designers.
Considering that physically challenged athletes may not be able to perform as good as they can when they compete in the uniforms designed for able-bodied athletes, a team from the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology (BIFT) has developed down waistcoat and down pants for athletes in wheelchairs by leveraging digital modeling and 3D printing technologies. The clothes are not only easy to put on and take off, but allow athletes to move freely.
The team has also innovated the method of measurement and developed 54 types of special uniforms in six series, offering custom-made training clothes for paralympic athletes competing in different events.
Besides specially designed clothing, the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics has also ensured smooth competition for paralympic athletes by monitoring their health conditions and environmental conditions and providing information services for them in a real-time manner through the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital devices including a “digital plaster” and a digital name tag.
The “digital plaster”, which is considered the smallest IoT device during the event, can collect and upload in real time such data as athletes’ body temperature and pulse to help guarantee efficient epidemic prevention and control for the safety of participants in the Games.
The digital name tag, an electronic paper display device, enables users to get real-time information about the Games and go through identity verification. Users can charge it using the near-field communication (NFC) feature of their mobile phones.
Such smart technologies have helped foster a highly efficient and convenient environment for the Games.
Sci-tech applications have empowered paralympic athletes to better enjoy competition and life during the sports event.
During the torch relay for the Winter Paralympics, Yang Shuting, a high paraplegic athlete who has been unable to walk upright for 11 years, successfully walked with her back straight and finished her part of the torch relay with the help of China’s self-developed exoskeleton robot.
After their arrival at the Beijing Capital International Airport, athletes with visual impairment are able to reach their destinations safely with the help of high-precision positioning and navigation system and receive services and information from interactive robots that can switch freely between sign language, text, and voice.
The barrier-free smart and convenient management platform of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Villages offers real-time information such as the number of people in public places and the location of shared wheelchairs. The platform based on advanced smart technologies and Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology has been committed to satisfying various basic living needs of paralympic athletes.
The 2022 Winter Paralympics has also facilitated the introduction of certain smart technologies into everyday life of people with disabilities. After the end of the Games, all the sci-tech achievements concerning accessible environment used in Paralympic scenarios are expected to be promoted in scenes of daily life to ensure people with disabilities move around freely.
The air film curling and ice hockey stadium built by Beijing for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the first of its kind in the city, will open to people with disabilities in an orderly manner as a permanent building.
The direct cooling ice-making technology using the non-toxic and non-corrosive R134a refrigerant adopted for making the ice surface of the venue can also effectively reduce energy consumption. In addition, the venue has created a comprehensive barrier-free environment both inside and outside the building, freeing people with disabilities who love ice sports from the restriction of infrastructure in enjoying the sports.
The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games has drawn great attention to the life and development of people with disabilities and generated a great opportunity for improving barrier-free services, showing the world that in order to guarantee convenience for the life of people with disabilities, services and facilities should cover not only every link but also every necessary detail of their life.
During the Games, when technologies and equipment helped paralympic athletes “walk, hear, see, and speak”, the applications of many sci-tech achievements have fully demonstrated China’s high-level innovation and high-quality development in barrier-free environment-related smart technologies.
In the future, sci-tech innovations that have brought humanistic care to athletes with disabilities will gradually be introduced into the daily life of people with disabilities.