Athletes at professional sporting events usually wait days to receive pictures of their performance. During this year’s Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine, however, live photos of the participants were sent to family and friends within seconds, thanks to a space-enabled app.
On Saturday, September 18, London Marathon events organized its annual open-water swimming event in and around the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London. Cameras snapped photos of swimmers and sent them directly to the phones of the person in the image, their friends, and their family, all within seconds using an app developed by sports photography company AWOL Adventure.
The app, which was part-funded by the UK Space Agency and ESA, not only speeds up the delivery process using satellite communications but also provides real-time quality control, resulting in better imagery. The images are recognized via Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition and sent directly to the phones of participants, their families, and friends.
“Since launching our world-first live photography in June 2021, we have steadily embedded the new tech with both large and small sporting events in the UK and Europe,” said Rich Burnett, Chief Operations Officer at AWOL adventure. “This technology is scaling up and we’re now capable of deploying more than 20 live cameras from anywhere on a course, and delivering live photo bundles to people in truly challenging conditions.”
Participants at the Swim Serpentine event organized by London Marathon Events uploaded a selfie to AWOL’s platform before the event, which generated a personal photo page they could share. As soon as the swim began, images that closely matched the uploaded selfie were sent live to the photo page, from multiple locations including in-the-water shots.
“I’ve been doing events for 15 years and you normally wait days for the photos,” Swimmer Derek Howlett said. “I’ve never had such good quality pictures so quickly and it was great for my family to see them before I’d even finished my swim.”
The technology can be used at sporting events of all kinds including running, cycling, and triathlons. It also has the potential to be used for live music and spectator sports events.
“Space is an essential part of our daily lives, from how we bank to our food delivery,” said Emily Gravestock, Head of Applications Strategy at the UK Space Agency. “But harnessing satellite data can also support technologies like sports photography that make life more fun.
“AWOL Adventure is revolutionizing the quality and the speed of sports photography and I am certain anyone who has taken part in these kinds of events will look forward to using this game-changing service.”
Spectator Anna Fearon said: “It was an amazing event in a stunning location. It was lovely to be there for my husband and be able to support him in person, and see his photos from the live alerts as he was swimming. Family members who couldn’t be at the event were delighted to still be part of the day by following the pictures online.”