July 26, 2012 -- The Olympics is, of course, about allowing the world's best athletes to compete against each other. But for some major consumer technology companies, it's also about big business and marketing.
The games are sponsored by 11 companies this year, which pay millions for the ability to market around the games and use the Olympic branding in their ads. Among those companies are three consumer tech brands -- Acer, Samsung and Panasonic.
To win promotional rights, the companies fork over large amounts of money. They also fork over large amounts of tech.
"For the Olympic movement we are more than sponsors; we are partners. We bring our expertise and our experience with equipment and people. Our responsibility is to provide the computing for the games," Acer's head of Olympic sponsorship, Anton Mitsyuk, told ABC News.
Acer's equipment is used by thousands on the ground at the games, including security, logistics, the 6,000 members of the Olympic organizing committee, and more.
Acer has deployed 13,500 desktop computers, 2,900 laptops, 950 servers and storage systems, and 13,000 monitors for the games.
Acer also powers four computer areas with free Wi-Fi at the Olympic grounds: three for athletes to access the Internet and one for press covering the games. The company has 400 engineers on the ground to make sure everything works smoothly across of all the deployed systems.
Panasonic's technology contribution to the games may be more visible to the public. The official audio/visual sponsor of the Olympic games for the last 25 years, Panasonic is helping produce the first-ever live 3-D video of the Olympics. It is providing about 30 3-D high-definition cameras, along with a whole lot of television sets.
Some of those TVs will be displayed at athletic venues, while others will be used in broadcast centers. Panasonic says it will provide 1,000 broadcast center television monitors, 12,000 television displays, and forty-seven 103-inch plasma screens.
Panasonic is also providing the security camera systems at the arenas and other Olympic centers in London; it has 25,000 security camera systems set up in the city.
Panasonic's Chief Technology Officer, Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, said that the opportunity to be a partner is about participating in a worldwide event and marketing the Panasonic brand. This year Panasonic is also trying to send a business message: "We are trying to reposition ourselves as a consumer technology business to a business-to-business company," Tsuyuzaki said.
Panasonic hopes that its technology infrastructure at the Olympics this year, especially the security cameras, will highlight to other businesses, including law enforcement and hospitals, its experience in the business-to-business arena.
While Panasonic and Acer are providing some of the behind-the-scenes technology, Samsung is getting right out in front of Olympic visitors with a focus on its mobile payments technology.
The Galaxy S III, Samsung's latest Android phone, is the official phone of the games and the company will be providing phones to those involved in the "operational support" of the games. Samsung did not respond to ABC News' request for more details on the number of phones beind distributed.
Samsung will be deploying a special edition of those phones with a Visa payment app to 1,000 "key stakeholders and decision makers." They will be able to use the phone and its NFC (Near Field Communications) feature to make purchases at the Visa PayWave kiosks located across the Olympic grounds and London. (If you're not familiar with NFC, it allows one simply to tap the phone at a booth and it will use the Visa app to make the payment.) There are more than 140,000 payment terminals across the United Kingdom.
While the consumer technology partners would not discuss details of the monetary deals they've made with Olympic organizers, they said the equipment contributions are a part of the sum they pay to be official partners.
"We pay a fee, but we also provide equipment and services counted into the sponsorship fee," Acer's Mitsyuk said.
The London 2012 Olympics officially kick off this Friday, July 27th. And just like the athletes, the consumer tech companies have been training and preparing for the games.
"We have been working on this for four years. It is an opportunity to showcase that we can do big projects," Acer's Mitsyu said. "We did it in Vancouver and this will be the proof for the world that we can do it; once we start, there is no way to reboot."