Alibaba Group will trial facial recognition technology at this year’s Winter Olympics as part of a plan to upgrade ticketing, media and video services over the next decade.
The firm, owner of Indian online ticketing platform TicketNew, is one of the only sponsors linked to the Games for the next 10 years. It said it will study the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics this year to help find ways to better serve future hosts.
Alibaba is the cloud-services and e-commerce provider for the Olympics and will use the information gained from February 9 to 25 to develop solutions for the next Games.
“Pyeongchang will be a very important learning opportunity for our team to see how things are working and what’s missing,” Alibaba’s chief marketing officer Chris Tung said.
“It will be great if a lot of the back end systems from hosting a Games can be hosted on the cloud and can be reused from Games to Games to enhance the cost efficiency,” he said.
Alibaba wants to focus on ending the inefficient practice of building local data centres and IT services from scratch for each Olympic Games.
Between 200 and 300 Alibaba employees will be sent to Pyeongchang, according to Tung who said he wants the “organisers to see how the operations could be made more efficient, effective and secure.”
Alibaba said on its website that it will showcase concepts it is looking to pursue for future Games, including facial recognition technology, travel guidance, content creation and new ways to buy Olympic merchandise.
“We’re new to the Olympic Games, but we’ve been studying what would be solutions to the pain points that game hosting cities have been facing over the years,” Tung said.