Athletes who participated in an open-air mass sporting event at the weekend had images of their sporting prowess sent to family and friends within seconds, thanks to a space-enabled app.
Participants normally expect to wait days to get their pictures from event organisers, but photographs of people at this year’s Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine held in London on 18 September were sent via 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. Uploaded in mere seconds, the images are recognised via Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition, and sent directly to the phones of participants, their families and friends.
Rich Burnett, Chief Operations Officer at AWOL adventure, says: “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. 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.”
The technology can be used at sporting events of all kinds including running, cycling and triathlons. It also has potential to be used for live music and spectator sports events.
Emily Gravestock, Head of Applications Strategy at the UK Space Agency, said: “Space is an essential part of our daily lives, from how we bank to our food delivery. But harnessing satellite data can also support technologies like sports photography that make life more fun.
“AWOL Adventure is revolutionising 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.”
Participants at the Swim Serpentine event organised 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.
Nick Appleyard, Head of ESA Space Solutions, said: “With no pictures, did it really happen? If you will brave the waters of the Serpentine, then you certainly will want the photo that proves it, and AWOL have solved your problem by combining the latest and most exciting technologies. So not only will you now have that image, but also you will have the story of how you got it. Once more, we find that space connects and inspires us.”
Swimmer Derek Howlett said: “I’ve been doing events for 15 years and you normally wait days for the photos. 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.”
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.”