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Few sports events have evolved more dramatically, or seen more advances in technology and technique, than the Olympics. The London Games will showcase a spectrum of new ideas, designs and equipment, from giant Lego-like blocks at the whitewater course, to superlightweight soccer shoes made of plant fiber and recycled plastic bottles, to a colorful television diving meter that is sure to make a splash
FACE OF THE FUTURE
Using 3-D mapping to determine head shape, Speedo custom-fit some Olympians with ultrasleek caps and goggles that are part of its new, drag-reducing Fastskin3 system. Rival outfitter Arena has introduced carbon-fiber-weave suits that it says offer greater body compression (for streamlining) and take on less weight when wet.
LeBron James and a few other Dream Teamers will wear Nike's new Hyperdunk sneakers, which measure—and transmit to a smartphone or tablet—the height of a player's jump and his steps per second. For now, there are no plans to make Dream Data public.
An adjustable back-foot ramp has been added to swimming starting blocks (above) to give competitors more stability and a better angle from which to dive. Track blocks will have wider footrests and, like swim blocks, a speaker linked to the starting gun.
From a velodrome (above) made of sustainably harvested woods to an Olympic Stadium built with one quarter as much steel as the Bird's Nest in Beijing, London organizers have focused on green design and eco-technology. In a similar vein some players will be wearing Nike's new Green Speed soccer shoe, which weighs just 5.64 ounces and incorporates recycled plastic bottles, castor-bean oil and fibers from the kenaf plant.