3 May 2012
Last updated at 09:57
Olympic timings need to be precise to cater for close finishes - as in Athens 2004, when America's Justin Gatlin beat Portugal's Francis Obikwelu by just 0.01s in the 100m final.
Eight years earlier, Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey clocked 10.94s in the women's final at the Atlanta Olympics - the same time as American Gail Devers, who was pronounced the winner.
Such precision would not be possible without technology. At London 1948, the Omega's Racend timer - the world’s first photo-finish camera - allowed officials to dispense with finishing tape. The machine projected a beam of light across the finishing line, triggering stopwatches as soon as it was interrupted by a runner.
Introduced at Melbourne 1956, the Swim Eight-O-Matic was the first semi-automatic timing device with a digital display. It allowed timekeepers to distinguish between two swimmers who finished at virtually the same time and was a small part of the 2,475 kg of timekeeping equipment that Omega packed into 42 boxes and shipped to Melbourne.
Introduced in 1961, the Omegascope allowed the time of each competitor, being followed by a camera, to be superimposed on a TV screen image.
The Scan-O-Vision photo-finish system was first used at the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympic Games, digitally measuring times to the nearest 1/1000th of a second using a linear vertical recording technology.
In the pool, sensors in diving boards ensure no false starts are made, while swimmers have to touch a pad at the end of the race to confirm their time.
The technology proved vital in Beijing 2008, when US swim king Michael Phelps completed his scoop of a record eight golds, beating Serbian rival Milorad Cavic to the 100m butterfly gold by a fingertip.
Experts would be grateful for not having to choose between the two men, who were separated by a mere 0.13 secs.