Sports Technology News

Fan-Engaging Tech Earns Tata Communications F1 Connectivity Prize

Benjamin Lambert and Alexander Gibson are presented with the Grand Prize by Mehul Kapadia, Ross Brawn, Managing Director (Sporting) of the Formula One Group, Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP and Martin Brundle at the F1 Connectivity Innovation prize giving (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images for Tata Communications)

The fan experience at Formula One Grands Prix could involve mobile connectivity well into the future, thanks to the work of a pair of men from the United Kingdom, Benjamin Lambert and Alexander Gibson.

Lambert and Gibson won the Tata Communications F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize, it was announced Thursday. They designed a system that would allow F1 fans to use their phones to access data, purchase concessions, and even see drivers’ lines and braking zones on the track surface through mixed reality throughout the weekend of an F1 Grand Prix.

The men competed in two challenges throughout the year. The challenges focused on bettering logistics and the fan experience through an Internet of Things-focused solution. The duo of Lambert and Gibson was one of six entrants in the running for the grand prize, which included a VIP trip to Sunday’s Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“This competition has given us the unique opportunity to share our vision for the future of the sport with the biggest names in F1. We are delighted that the judges saw how a creative combination of the IoT, mobile technologies and embedded connectivity could revolutionise the Grand Prix experience for fans,” Lambert and Gibson said in a statement.

As part of the grand prize, the winners were awarded with $50,000 check and presented a trophy by Lewis Hamilton, a four-time F1 World Drivers’ Champion and judge of the F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize. Hamilton is also a driver for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, a sponsor of the prize; he finished second at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to earn his fourth championship.

“The best thing about this competition is that it gives the power to the fans—it’s a way for them to imagine what they’d want the sport to be like in the future and share their vision with us, Hamilton said in a statement. “The winning idea shows how fans could get closer to the action and access new kinds of data and insights on each driver, team and turn on the circuit. It’s incredible to think what a difference this could make to the sport.”

“Ubiquitous connectivity and real-time data analytics are amongst the most disruptive forces shaping how businesses operate and how people engage with the world around them,” Julie Woods-Moss, the president and chief marketing and innovation officer of Tata Communications, said in a statement. “There are immense opportunities for F1 to leverage cutting-edge IoT enabled applications for fresh insights—like the winning idea of this year’s competition so brilliantly demonstrates.”

The 2017 F1 season might be over, but don’t be surprised if Lambert and Gibson see their winning idea implemented for at least a few Grands Prix when the next cycle rolls around in March.