Our 9 favourite things from the Olympics that aren’t sports

The Olympics! Wow, that were pretty special ey? The infrastructure of the country didn’t melt (despite the best efforts of G4S), TeamGB surprised us all by not just being good at sitting down sports (cycling, horse dancing), but also fighting, shooting, running (the training sessions on 6-10 August last year really paid off) and much more! Well done everyone! And next, the Paralympics! Sweet!

So what was digital industry been up to while all these spry, virile people were doing fancy things? Not slacking, I can tell you. Ignoring standard ‘How to Find Your Way Around’ apps and that, ladies and gentleman, please stand for…the best (well our favourite) digital (and not digital) things of the Olympics 2012!

The big dogs

Guardian Second Screen

Guardian Olympic Second Screen

The Guardian’s Second Screen Olympic website, specifically optimised for tablets, is a joy of good interface design. Our favourite element is the timeline with crowd sourced importance graph: it logs the amount of tweets to do with the Olympics in the timeline, allowing you to see the big events by when the Twitter sphere went nuts. They also wrote a blog post on designing it.


Twitter running shoe

Social Media Running Shoe

Yes, Adidas, in collaboration with shoe customiser Nash Money, have made a running shoe that can send and receive tweets. Unfortunately it’s just a proof of concept at the moment, but THIS IS WHAT THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE.


Google Doodles

Google Basketball Doodle GamePrompting a dangerous amount of time wasting in the Thought Den studio (“it’s research!) the Google Olympic Doodles included a great little Basketball game, a finger bashing Hurdles race and a very lacklustre Football simulator. Fitting, given TeamGB’s disappointing but traditional penalties exit.


BBC’s 4 Screen Fandango

BBC Red Button

It’s pretty much universally agreed that the Beeb did a great job of covering the events (Trevor Nelson at the Opening Ceremony notwithstanding). Utilising TV, the Red Button, iPlayer and their dedicated website (with mobile and tablet responsive design), the BBC served up 2.8 petabytes of data on the busiest day of the Games. Up to 24 streams/channels of content boggles the mind, but they held good to their promise to cover every single heat of every single event.


Fun (and not dull)

99 Tiny Games

99 Tiny Games

Following on from their previous Tiny Games expedition at the Southbank CentreHide and Seek have gone 89 better and setup 99 little games all around London. All for free and marked simply by instructional posters, bored Londoners can play games like ‘#49 Red Returned Rejuvinated: A word game for any number of players, and a red car’ or ‘Five to Five: A high-fiving game for three of more players’. This should be everywhere, always.



BongoCam in full effect

While not really that digitally innovative, BongoCam kept many a spectator happy in dull moments between the Beach Volleyball. Working on the simple KissCam principle, members of the crowd were displayed on the screen with bongos in front of them, which they then had to play with their imagination.


Mo Farah Running Away From Things

Mo Farah and the WildebeestsWhen a man runs away from things (the competitors) in such an iconic way, it’s not long before someone creates a blog of him running away from other iconic things (Temple of Doom, Lion King wildebeests, Star Wars trench). Enjoy literally ten minutes of joy on this Tumblr.


Useful (and also not dull)


EmotoWonder what the general sentiment about London2012 is? Want it visualised like an unfolded origami bird? YOU GOT IT! Emoto plots Twitter sentiment and can tell you the general vibe about how people feel about the Games. Nice HTML5 site too.


London CrowdLondon Crowd

This would have been very useful if the predicted London travel chaos had actually happened. This app uses street and traffic cameras to create heat maps of London so you can see where the crowds are, and had the Olympic event deets in there. It’s just so delightfully Big Brother (as in 1984, not the show).

Thanks to Moms (Mums)

Thanks to MomsA heart-pulling little idea this from Proctor & Gamble; saying thanks to all the athletes’ Moms [sic]. Fortuitously tying in nicely with the emotional outpour from the athletes (Andy Murray climbing in crowd after winning gold etc), P&G launched a campaign 100 days before the games with this video emphasising the role that the m0ms [sic] had played in getting the Olympians to where they are today. A clever idea from a company you wouldn’t normally associate with sports. Thanks to @skirrrtalert on Twizzer for this one.

What are you favourites? Leave in the comments, or tweet us.


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