Jack Ma, IOC President Thomas Bach Say Beijing Winter Games May Use Facial Recognition

Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma spoke at the Winter Olympics in South Korea on February 10.

Over the last four days, Jack Ma traveled twice between South Korea and China to meet with IOC President Thomas Bach. Ma spoke at the First Global Cross-border E-Commerce Conference, offering insights into cloud computing and cross-border e-commerce.

Ma invited Bach to attend the opening ceremony in the Alibaba pavilion on the morning of February 10 during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. There, Ma introduced the Alibaba Cloud ET Sports Brain, an artificial intelligence system for large-scale sports events such as the Olympics.

Though this new technology is not yet ready to be deployed for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Ma said, “Today is just the beginning. Great improvements will be made in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing will be the real Cloud Olympics.”

On February 10, Jack Ma met Bach, the IOC President.

Alibaba will offer cloud-based infrastructure for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Meanwhile, Alibaba is developing its Olympic innovation center, which will use Alibaba cloud technology in the Olympic Games.

Alibaba Cloud now captures a large share of the Chinese market, and is setting sights for international markets.

In 2017, IOC and Alibaba announced a long-term partnership. Alibaba is serving as the official Olympics Cloud Services and E-commerce Platform Service partner until 2028, and is also one of the founding partners of the Olympic channel.

The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang will be the first Olympic Games to commence following announcement of this partnership.

Chen Tianjiang, director of the Alibaba Cloud overseas strategic project, said that Alibaba Cloud ET Sports Brain can digitize people, objects, events, buildings and facilities related to the Olympic Games. Using artificial intelligence and big data, it is able to analyze and allocate resources in real-time.

The ET Brain can predict traffic congestion and regulate traffic signals to improve traffic flow. Regulating traffic signals will also allow ambulances to arrive at the scene faster. Based on pedestrian flow analysis, the ET brain could issue public safety warnings to avoid stampedes.

Ma stated that facial recognition could be adopted in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Security checkpoint at the Olympic Games will use facial recognition to register passes for the audience. The audience could also access navigation guides, games information, and athletes’ profiles via facial scanning.

On February 10, Ma accompanied Bach to visit Alibaba pavilion for Pyeongchang Olympics.

ET Brain can also improve athletes training. With video identification and Internet of Things, Alibaba could generate detailed training data, provide electronic health records, and upgrade athletes’ medical data in both their home countries and the host city simultaneously.

Bach said on February 10th that Alibaba‘s cloud services could help IOC cut costs by digitizing and reducing redundancies.

It is reported that Amazon also attempted an IOC top sponsor bid. After several rounds of bidding, Alibaba won out against Amazon in both cloud computing and e-commerce categories.

Amazon is the world’s largest provider of cloud computing, but its position is being challenged by tech giants Alibaba, Microsoft and Google. At present, Alibaba Cloud provides technical support for China’s Online Booking Agency, Sinopec, PetroChina and China Unicom.

Alibaba Cloud’s success with the Single’s Day Shopping Festival attracted IOC’s attention. On November 11, 2017, transaction volume peaked at 325,000 per second, and payment volume peaked at 256,000 per second. Amazon, on the other hand, has not dealt with such a tough challenge.

This article originally appeared in The Paper and was translated by Pandaily.