Olympics Coverage Rediscovers Garrett Brown’s Innovations

In addition to all the hoopla surrounding Microsoft’s Silverlight video on NBCOlympics.com, the enthusiasm over the aquatic competitions seems to have generated a renewed interest in the camera technology used to track swimmers, divers, and other Olympians as they compete.

The Wall Street Journal this week published “Now Diving: Sir Isaac Newton” about the DiveCam used to follow divers from their launch off the diving board through their plunge into the water.

The Associated Press recently published “Gizmos to Make it Up Close and Personal at Games,” covering the DiveCam along with the MobyCam used to follow swimmers from under the water and the FlyCam used to track the action of rowers and kayakers from overhead.

All these devices were developed by inventor and cinematographer Garrett Brown. This past week Wired’s Gadget Lab blog featured a brief interview with Brown titled “Garrett Brown Gives You a ‘God’s Eye’ View of the Olympics.”

garrett-brown-montage.jpgIt’s interesting how dazzling (and still newsworthy) these camera technologies are, even though they have been in use for many years and have been employed in previous Olympics and numerous other sporting, news, and entertainment events. The MobyCam was developed for the Barcelona Summer Olympics in 1992. The DiveCam was introduced at the Atlanta Olympic games in 1996. The FlyCam, invented by Brown and Pat Hally, debuted covering the February 1998 visit to Mexico City of Pope John Paul II.

For those interested in knowing more about Garrett Brown and his work, I did a fairly extensive interview with him a few years ago for Knowledge@Wharton titled “Garrett Brown: Inventing the Future — And a Few Handy Gadgets.” The piece includes a sidebar on Brown’s somewhat unusual career path titled “Garrett Brown: An Inventive Path.” My Flickr photostream includes a set of photos from that interview session.

And, of course, there is more information on Garrett Brown — including video footage demonstrating many of his camera control inventions — on his web site at http://www.garrettcam.com/

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