The Singapore Grand Prix saw a breakthrough in broadcast technology with F1 carrying out a live proof of concept exercise with 360 degree TV broadcast that means F1 may soon offer fans the option to choose their view of race details on mobile devices in the near future.
This comes at a time when F1 Group is investing in a new OTT (over the top) video platform and other technologies to enhance the experience for fans who are not at the race track, to try to make them feel more like they are there.
There are mixed feelings on 360 and the problem with tests of live broadcast of 360 in sport up to now has been that there is a latency of around 30 seconds between the user and the broadcast images. This is why there hasn’t been much take up of the technology. In real time the moment had passed before the user’s manipulation of the mobile screen had changed the view.
The exercise carried out in Singapore cut that latency almost to zero, with two cameras being used through the weekend. One was placed on the track, allowing users to pan, while the other was placed at one of the most populous areas of the F1 paddock for people-watching.
According to F1’s chief technical officer John Morrison, “We’ve done this test to show how a fan could watch Lewis, Sebastian or any other drivers coming into the pits on TV, grab their tablet and get a second, completely in sync 360º view of everything going on around him while he is there – not 30 seconds after he has driven off!
“In a sport like F1 where every millisecond matters, there are huge opportunities to empower fans to take control of key Grand Prix moments and create their unique, personalised race experiences through the powerful combination of live TV and 360º video.”
Many consumers are sceptical about the potential for 360 and Virtual Reality in general when it comes to broadcast, with the widely held belief that it could be like 3D TV which was supposed to be the next big thing but never caught on.
But according to Michael Inouye, Principal Analyst at ABI Research, which carried out a survey earlier this year on the sector, “VR is not 3D.”
He estimates that the 360 and VR market could be worth around US$60 billion by 2021, with entertainment and sport at the forefront of the take up.
“With first-generation hardware sales lower than expected, some industry professionals suggest parallels between VR and 3D, but the wealth of companies active in this space and deep-seeded belief in VR stand in marked contrast to the short-lived heyday of 3D. While most companies engage with VR live in the entertainment realm, other segments like real-estate/construction/architecture, marketing/sponsorships, healthcare, and training also represent huge opportunity in these early years.”
* Meanwhile in Formula E, VR tech company Virtually Live has announced an installation at Red Bull Media World in Luzern, to enable fans to participate in a race as if they would be attending in person. Visitors to the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz will have the chance to compete over 2 laps to beat Sébastien Buemi’s fastest time at last Season’s Paris ePrix, by driving in VR using Virtually Live’s proprietary technology.
What do you think? Can you imagine engaging with 360 pictures on your mobile during a Grand Prix weekend? Where would you want to place a camera for best effect? Leave your comment in the section below