Sports Photography makes a splash in Hyde Park at the Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine

September 20, 2021

With quotes from Hugh Brasher (London Marathon Events), Emily Gravestock (UK Space Agency) & Nick Appleyard (ESA)

Photography of mass sporting events has taken a leap forward thanks to a new space-enabled service used at the prestigious Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine.

While swimmers taking part would have in the past expected to wait days for pictures from the event organisers, thousands of photos were today delivered to family and friends within seconds of being taken thanks to AWOL Adventure’s space-enabled app.

Part-funded by the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency, the service 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 family and friends.

Hugh Brasher, Event Director, London Marathon Events, said:

“London Marathon Events strives to deliver the best possible experience for our participants. The last 18 months has been a challenging time but has also seen incredibly positive innovations coming from our partners.

“AWOL’s Live Photography offering is an exciting development and it’s great to see the technology working to full effect here today.”

The technology can be used at sporting events of all kinds including running, cycling and triathlons. It also has potential to be used in other industries, such as 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 Saturday’s (18th September) Swim Serpentine 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-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 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.”

Rich Burnett, Chief Operations Officer at AWOL Adventure, said:

“Since launching our world-first Live Photography in June 2021 we have steadily and carefully embedded the new tech with both large and small sporting events in the UK and Europe. We are delighted to be doing this with London Marathon Events today.

“This technology is rapidly scaling up and we’re now capable of deploying more than 30 live cameras from anywhere on an event course, regardless of the availability of timing locations and other infrastructure, and deliver live photo bundles in real-time, to participants and supporters under any conditions.”