Using virtual reality to reinvent the IndyCar fan experience

Racing’s digital fan experience of the future was on display during the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8.

DXC Labs showcased numerous virtual reality demos, viewed via Facebook’s latest Oculus VR headsets, to give clients and partners attending the event an insider’s view of what it’s like to prepare and drive an IndyCar that can reach speeds greater than 200 miles per hour:

  • DXC Virtual Speedway – Fans got an up-close experience of the race in real time from a 360-degree camera securely mounted under the flag stand at the start line. This live-stream feed made every seat the “best seat in the house,” giving fans the same view up and down the track’s straightaway as enjoyed by guest race starter, DXC Labs director Sam Johnston (pictured below waving the start flag).

A tactical fiber and the latest WiFi 6 (802.11ax) technologies were used to transport the high-bandwidth data from the track to the viewers in real time. The arrival of 5G will make this possible from anywhere.

  • Oval Rover – Named after the NASA Mars rovers that beam images back to Earth using similar stereoscopic HD cameras, this demo helped fans experience the perspective of driver Simon Pagenaud from a cinematic quality, 180-degree video camera engineered into his DXC-sponsored car’s frame as shown below.

The Oval Rover recorded images from the track and the pits at high velocity. Pagenaud’s car goes nearly 3,000 times faster than Mars rovers when the car is driven at 240 m.p.h.

  • Paddock and pit tour – Fans experienced the Penske paddock and pit firsthand with a personal tour and virtual walk around the Texas Motor Speedway garages. The latest in 2D/3D and 180/360-degree cameras was used to teleport viewers to remote locations. A 3D model of the Texas Motor Speedway was constructed in the cloud using over 1,500 overhead and oblique photos taken from drones.
  • Other DXC Labs demos – Customers were able to view digital demos pre-recorded in immersive 3D video, enabling customers to better visualize proposed solutions without having to rely on low fidelity physical models. A demo of a smart factory shot on site in the UK can be experienced virtually, in 3D, anywhere in the world using the VR headset.

The combination of camera, connectivity, cloud and viewing technology has myriad uses outside the racetrack, in applications such as manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, utilities, search and rescue and law enforcement. Indeed, the digital blueprints from last year’s DXC Technology 600 race are already being deployed by police in the field to ensure public safety.

A fan app and AR experience

DXC also showcased DXC Drive, an AI-based simulation that let fans race against each other and the pros on their mobile devices, and DXC Virtual Pitstop, which let fans join a virtual pit crew to perform a tire change using augmented reality (AR).

“It’s all about using technology to improve performance — in the case of IndyCar racing, to get an edge, to go faster, to win,” says Johnston. “At DXC Labs we adopt emerging technologies so we can equip DXC to lead clients through accelerating change. In the case of VR, it’s about creating a unique customer experience and experimenting with new ways to improve customer engagement and human-computer interaction.”

At the DXC Technology 600, it was about having an immersive experience that brought the thrill — and challenges — of racing to life in a whole new way. Fans got a view of IndyCar racing they’d never seen before.


Sam Johnston is director of DXC Labs, whose mission is to ensure that DXC Technology is fully equipped with emerging digital technologies to lead clients through accelerating change. This includes drones, robotics, humanoids, 3D printing, computer vision, voice, augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, chatbots and quantum computing. @samj

 

Phillip Matheson leads DXC Labs in Australia & New Zealand from Melbourne. He has an intense curiosity for technology in general, which has led him to develop skills and experience in a variety of fields including drones, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality, and machine learning. @PhillipMatheson

 

Chris Cornelius is a project manager for DXC Technology’s Portfolio Management organization, whose focus is on improving DXC offerings, particularly through the integration of emerging technologies from DXC Labs. @ccornelius94

 

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