All Things Digital

Monday 15, August 2016

Rio's Reinvention


Rio de Janeiro has undergone an impressive transformation in preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics, and while this transformation is being met with a lot of controversy, it is also giving the city an opportunity to showcase innovative marketing techniques and technology. 


Virtual reality

On June 30th, National Broadcasting Company (NBC) Olympics announced it will be offering virtual reality (VR) screenings of the 2016 Olympics for the first time in Olympic history. This type of coverage hopes to give people the opportunity to experience Olympic events in a completely new way. However, viewing is only available to authenticated users of Samsung Galaxy smartphones that are compatible with Samsung Gear VR. 

These select users have access to a 360-view of the Opening and Closing ceremonies, gymnastics, men’s basketball, beach volleyball, diving, boxing, fencing, track and field, as well as additional selected highlights. 

Gary Zenkel, President of NBC Olympics, has expressed that by showcasing virtual reality, as an upcoming and relevant technology in an Olympic environment the event will see an increase in the number of viewers. It is predicted that 85 hours of games will be streamed by the Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), which will then be distributed by NBC Olympics. All the content has been available on the NBC Sports app as well as TV Everywhere, allowing users to feel like they are experiencing the action in person. 

As stated by Yiannis Exarchos, CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services, the greatest attraction of virtual reality is that it holds the ability to allow millions of people across the world to feel a real sense of presence and participation in the Olympic Games. Ultimately virtual reality coverage intends to give users the illusion that they are watching the events as if they were really there.


Source: Users have been immersed in the games’ environment with the Gear VR


Favela entrepreneurs: the shift to technology

To the rest of the world, Rio’s favelas are known as some of the most impoverished communities of Brazil, stricken by violence, drug trafficking and gun crimes. However, the favelas are slowly becoming home to a wide range of small entrepreneurial businesses, selling products from clothing items to knock-off Apple headphones and chargers. These businesses, while serving to provide a source of income, are also an effective way of giving young people living in the favelas the opportunity to choose a career path away from crime. As recorded in 2015, one in every five Brazilians was involved in starting or running a young business. As an incentive for new and existing businesses to continue expanding in the favelas, the Olympic Committee has set up a scheme worth $700m whereby it awards certain businesses a special contract to supply goods and services during the Games

However finding these businesses is not as simple as it seems. Up until recently, the digital exclusion of Rio’s favelas from Google Maps has meant that businesses based within these areas have been deprived of the tourist market as it is near impossible to know where they are located, let alone know if they exist. Now, with the partnership of Google and non-profit organisation AfroReggae, 26 favelas and more than 3000 small businesses have been mapped. In further preparation for the foreign tourist wave, Google has dedicated the four months prior to the games to training businesses to be able to use the Translate app, which allows small business owners to connect with tourists without the drawbacks that come with a language barrier. This development aims to boost sales, increase profits and ultimately help to contribute to the economic growth of Rio’s favela communities. 


               Source: The Rocinha favela before and after it was mapped


Airbnb, one of the official partners of the 2016 Olympic Games, has also been getting a lot of attention from Rio’s favelas. With unemployment levels reaching 12% in Brazil, Airbnb has emerged as a lucrative, alternative source of income. With 50,000 bookings already surpassing the 35,000 listings in the country, Airbnb has seen a significant growth in the number of listings in favelas. People living in favelas who host tourists through Airbnb can expect to earn up to $927 per week, which is enough to serve as the sole income for these families. 


Here at Onque, we’re passionate about how technology can be used in innovative ways to help people reach their full potential and improve the overall human experience. 

We’re interested to know what you think about how Rio and the overarching Olympic Committee who are incorporating technology into their marketing strategies. What are your thoughts on Rio’s transformation of its favelas and the VR initiative? 

Leave us a comment below!


Rio's Reinvention

Rio de Janeiro underwent an impressive transformation in preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics, showcasing innovative marketing techniques and technology.