Media Coverage

Mass High Tech | Local Tech Companies Go for the Gold at Olympics

Jul 27, 2012

by Don Seiffert 

David Peto, CEO of Aframe Inc., is pumped about the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games – and not just because, as he says, his company is located “bang in the middle of town” in the city which will be the center of worldwide attention for the next two weeks.

Aframe, which opened its U.S. headquarters in Burlington in June, is one of a handful of New England-based tech companies which are contributing in small ways to make the London 2012 Olympics a reality. Aframe will be using its cloud-based video sharing and editing software to help transmit footage of various events to more than 50 broadcasters worldwide. Earlier this year, the Olympic Delivery Authority retained TV production firm SMS Media in London to produce promotional video clips, which in turn used post production house Azimuth to produce the content. Peto told Mass High Tech that rather than sending out hard drives or DVDs of the video, Azimuth used Aframe’s online service to get the clips to broadcasters across the globe, including the BBC, ITV, Sky, NBC and CNN. Aframe’s tagging system allows them to quickly find and select specific clips, including one of the construction of major structures related to the Olympics over the past five years.

“If you’ve seen any time lapse video of the of the Olympic Stadium on ABC or CNN, that will probably have come from us,” he said.

Burlington-based Signiant Inc. is also heavily involved in the video processing and distribution efforts. Brian Bailey, Signiant’s vice president of global services, said that Signiant’s software has been managing the transport as well as the processing of video for major broadcasters since 2006, and it’s technology has been used in the past couple of Olympics Games. He said that ABC, NBC, ESPN and Fox Sports are all clients, and while it’s used extensively for coverage of the Olympics Games, those broadcasters use the software year round for live sports coverage.

The software is aimed at media files, and has the ability to get it from reporters and videographers on the ground, and can convert it to various other formats as needed by the various departments, including editing and quality control.

“We’re the one that orchestrates all that,” he said.

On the medical device side, at least one local company – Chelmsford-based Zoll Medical Corp. – will know its technology could help save a life in the Olympic water polo team. Jonathan Bowman, director of public safety for Zoll, said that Jen Rottenberg, head of marketing for USA Water Polo, discovered the company at a trade show about a year ago.

“She came up to our booth and fell in love with the product,” he said. Zoll began talking to the organizations about a deal to put one of its AED Plus defibrillators at each one of the 500 clubs nationwide. Then, a few months ago, the organization decided to send one of the devices overseas with the men’s and women’s to the Olympic Summer games. Bowman said that an AED Plus went over with the women’s team on July 23.

The device, which came out in 2002, monitors how hard the user is pushing on the patient’s chest. Contrary to popular opinion, Bowman said, the danger with defibrillators is that the users often don’t push hard enough to have the best chance of saving someone’s life, so the AED Plus both tells the user and shows them on a screen how hard they are pushing.

In past years, local companies have also had a hand in Olympic projects. In 2010, Billerica-based Belmont Instruments reported that the Olympic Organizing Committee asked the company to install its blood infusion product, the Belmont Rapid Infuser, at the mobile hospital that treated Olympic athletes at the Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada.

For the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, thanks in part to the need for tight security, Wilmington-based Implant Sciences recorded more than $7 million in orders for its Quantum Sniffer portable explosives detectors. Implant launched its explosives-detection business six years earlier.

Also in 2008, Nashua, N.H.-based Sky-Skan Inc., which develops projection systems for planetariums, was part of China’s plan to spruce up Beijing. The company got a two-year project that resulted in the installation of what it called the world’s highest-resolution digital dome theater after a $7 million to $8 million renovation of the Beijing Planetarium.

The 51-year-old theater, with a dome screen that is 75 feet in diameter and with seating for 600 people, included a system that displays 35 million unique pixels per frame, nearly four times the resolution of previous systems.