Swiss watch manufacturer Omega is launching four new timing technologies at the Olympic Games in London.
It says the Quantum timer, which will be used in cycling and swimming events, is the most accurate instrument ever to be taken to the Games.
New athletics starting blocks, a ‘Swimming Show’ light system for communicating pool results, and an ‘open water gate’ that delivers intermediate times in the swimming marathon also make their debut.
As the company’s countdown clocks in Trafalgar Square and Greenwich tick away the seconds leading up to the opening ceremony, Omega is preparing to take on the role of official timekeeper to the Olympics (including winter games) for the 25th time.
Its first assignment was Los Angeles 1932, when a mere thirty chronograph stopwatches were used.
Eighty years on, the company is deploying more than 450 technicians, supported by 400 tonnes of equipment.
“With a resolution of 1µs the Quantum Timer marks the beginning of a new generation of timing products,” said Omega’s Pierre Gueguin.
“The resolution is 100 times greater than with previous devices, delivering precision of 0.1 parts per million.”
The timer’s 16 independent clocks, 128 inputs and 32 outputs mean that 16 separate running times can be recorded, while information for each can be simultaneously communicated to scoreboards or shown on television screens.
Also new is an updated athletics starting block where the runners’ reaction times are measured by monitoring the pressure of the foot on the back block.
A light system called the Swimming Show is an instant result display mounted on the swimmers’ starting blocks.
Finally, the Open Water Gate has been designed to provide previously unavailable intermediate times in the swimming marathon.
Gates in the intermediate positions have antennas that pick up signals ‘on the fly’ from transponders worn on the swimmers’ wrists.
Stephen Urquhart, President of Omega said: “while the technology offers greater flexibility in the distribution, display and storage of the results, it has the same aim as the chronographs used to time each event at our first Olympic games in 1932: to record for posterity the performances of the world’s best athletes.”