Olympic timing technology has come a long way in the last 100 years. Long gone are the days of simple stopwatches. Today you'll see a selection of high-tech timekeeping devices including high-speed digital cameras, electronic touch pads, infrared beams and radio transmitters, just to name a few.
Thanks to today's advanced timing technology, Olympic athletes can win or lose by a margin of only 1,000th of a second -- 40 times faster than the blink of an eye. Such accuracy requires first-rate technology, and currently only two companies in the world meet the standards of the Olympic Committee. Omega is Official Timekeeper of the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy (it also held that title for the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece). This title means the company provides technology and personnel for the timing of more than 150 events during the biennial competitions. The other company, Seiko, held the title during the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In this article, we'll look at the mechanics of determining split-second wins and false starts, as well as methods of instant scoring. We'll also recount some of the technological breakthroughs that made it all possible.