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UK Entries Win First F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize Challenge

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Two data solutions from the UK win the first round of Tata Communications’ F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize, which aims to solve the sport’s technological challenges

Two British projects have been named the winners of the first challenge of the F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize, a competition launched by Tata Communications that invites Formula One fans to solve some of the technological problems faced by the sport.

The first challenge was set prior to the British Grand Prix last month and asked entrants to come up with ways of creating insight using the vast amounts of data created by Formula One to help teams, drivers and fans.

A judging panel featuring 2008 World Champion and current driver for Mercedes Lewis Hamilton, his boss Paddy Lowe, F1 CTO John Morrison, Tata’s managing director of its F1 Business Mehul Kapadia and former F1 driver and current Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle chose the two winners, who automatically advance to the final of the competition as well as being invited to the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix.

F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize

Both winners were working with open APIs, something which Tata says is representative of a broader industry recognition of such tools and a web-based approach to connectivity innovation.

F1 Tata Mercedes Lewis HamiltonChris Thelwell’s winning entry outlined a way of making F1 data more accessible to both fans and teams. This “humanisation” process involved taking an XML feed from the raw data set and comparing it against historical data and significant events through logic events.

Metadata is attached to each story and the ‘humanised’ information is delivered through an API platform to a variety of devices, including smartphones for spectators, wearable technology for trackside staff and audible screen reading technology for blind and partially sighted motorsport fans.

The other successful entrant was a team from W12 Studios, who suggested a method of separating the F1 data set into relevant feeds for teams, enthusiasts and fans. Teams would have access to an API and web-based feed prioritising readability and user-control for engineers and race officials, while enthusiasts would be able to get a fully interactive and personalised graphic language. Finally, fans would be offered a simplified version that highlighted key data for smartphones and connected TVs.

Networking importance

“Congratulations to our winners and a tremendous thank you to all the F1 enthusiasts who took the time to submit an entry,” says Mehul Kapadia, managing director of Tata’s F1 business. “The quality of ideas submitted made judging a challenge in itself, but ultimately, both winning entries stood out for the way they pushed the boundaries of technology and design innovation in this fast-paced sport.”

Both Chris Thelwell and the team from W12 Studios now have a chance of winning the $50,000 main prize. They will be joined in the finals by the winners of the next two challenges, which will be revealed before the Italian GP next month and the US GP in October.

Communications are becoming increasingly vital to F1, with a number of teams partnering with networking firms to ensure that they can instantly analyse data from their cars in the hope that this can give them an edge over their rivals.

Tata, which also provides connectivity to all 19 circuits on the 2014 race calendar, is able to provide Mercedes with a 128Gbps connection that transfers the data from the car anywhere in the world to the team’s base in Brackley within 0.244 seconds.

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