IoT Solution Enhances F1 Fan Experience, Wins $50,000

By Special Guest
Arti Loftus & Shrey Fadia, Special Correspondents
November 29, 2017

At the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi hosted one of the largest sporting events in the Middle East for the 9th consecutive year, and Tata Communications, the Formula One Official Connectivity Provider, announced the winners of its 2017 F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize.

The F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize competition has been running for several years and aims at inspiring F1 fans around the world to use their skills and knowledge, combined with their love of the sport, to come up with ideas for solutions that can be used to enhance the way that Formula One fans can embrace the motorsport in new and exciting ways.

Tata Communications enables Formula One racing to seamlessly reach millions of fans across the world using the latest technologies available.  “Technology is at the heart of the opportunity to reimagine Formula One, take it to new and different audiences across different formats,” said Vinod Kumar, CEO at Tata Communications.

“It is about a television screen today,” explained Chase Carey, chairman and chief executive of the Formula One Group.  “We now want to use the capabilities that exist because of technology platforms to bring the fans as close to the sport as possible. It is a sport that is rich in data and information. How do we take that vast information that a team has, and take it to the fans?”

The F1 Connectivity Prize competition gives a sneak peek into what the future of Formula One racing could bring to its audience.

This year’s theme was the Internet of Things (IoT) with the top prize won by Benjamin Lambert and Alexander Gibson from the United Kingdom. The got the $50,000 prize and bespoke trophy at a special ceremony hosted by four-time Formula One World Drivers’ Champion, Lewis Hamilton.

The competition came with two challenges, the first of which was announced in May 2017.

For the first challenge, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport invited entrants to design an IoT solution that could improve the team’s productivity and competitive capabilities using the power of the IoT and real-time data analytics.

The solution called for combining IoT and mobile technologies to make sure that team personnel, cars, and other equipment stay connected and communicate in real-time with each other, giving the team the capability to track, monitor and manage everything in real-time as well as to harness valuable data generated in the process.  The data collected would trigger automated responsive actions through controlling applications.

The second challenge, The Connected Fan Experience Challenge, asked for the design of an enhanced connected at-the-track race experience for fans through the application of embedded networks, IoT, and mobile technologies implemented in such a way so that it creates a complete and deeply engaging fan experience at the race track.

The solution required to be delivered through a mobile device application with which fans would be able to interact with.  Entrants were able to incorporate additional sensors, wearables and any other data sources anywhere in the circuit as well as consider the addition of sensors for F1 fans, in their mobile devices or to any other part of the circuit to design their experience.

The judges picked three winners from each of the two stages before reaching a decision on the grand prize winner. The overall winner was chosen based on several factors including innovation, technical content, quality of material, idea originality and deployment strategies.

Lambert and Gibson’s concept includes sensors connected to the track that would be able to transmit data directly to fans’ mobile application enabling them to access data and insights on their favorite team or driver, get a mixed reality view of driver lines and braking zones on the surface of the race track, or buy refreshments and souvenirs.

When interviewed by Gulf News, Lambert explained how he would like F1 to reach a wider and younger audience to solidify the future of the sport by incorporating new technologies.  “For us, it is interesting to talk to people here who have been involved in this sport for so many years, and see how they are actually doing some of the things that have been suggested to them by us and other contestants,” he said. “Which other sport can you have so much of real-time data in one place and not make use of it?”

“This competition in general is a good platform for other fans to get involved in the ideas and obviously having telecommunications with people who can make it a reality. That’s a great way to getting some of this progress to the next generation and the future of sport going forward.”  Gibson added.

“By harnessing fans and tech enthusiasts’ brainpower and passion, we look to accelerate the digital transformation of F1, as the way people want to watch and engage with their favorite sports continues to be shaped by technology,” said Ross Brawn, Managing Director, Motorsports, F1, and guest judge.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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