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Inside the INDYCAR Mobile App: The True Speed of Data

Many U.S.-based Verizon IndyCar Series fans, (hundreds of thousands, to be exact) may already be well aware of the usefulness of the Verizon INDYCAR Mobile App, available on iOS and Android devices. This year, even more IndyCar fans will find the app available in their palms as Verizon opened the application to the rest of the world. The very long list of features and data is collected, processed, organized, and sent to mobile devices across the world in a very sleek way. Slipstream Network was invited inside the process that brings all these great things to the app.

The INDYCAR Mobile app offers many features that are valuable to any race-day warrior, whether at the track or enjoying the IndyCar action from home. Some of the many features that are available to every user include a real-time leaderboard, championship points as they run, real-time notifications for track activity and breaking news, weather information, favorite driver and team selection to follow closely with user’s favorite stars, exclusive video content, championship points standings and results, spotters guides and social media profiles for teams and drivers. This may seems like a pretty satisfying list of features, but Verizon takes it another step further for Verizon Wireless customers. When using the app on a Verizon Wireless device, a variety of live content is available such as on-track video streaming using Verizon’s LTE Mutlicast technology, real-time car telemetry and map-tracking, live in-car video, driver to pit radio transmissions (a source of great entertainment, especially from some of the more expressive drivers), and live audio from the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

How does Verizon get all those features into the little box you’re holding right now? That’s where all the magic happens! The app is a perfect fit for Verizon, really, as they are able to bring an enjoyable experience to more race fans while showing off their ability to transfer data to mobile devices in such a way that would leave the end user to believe it was a simple process. As with anything in racing, the truth is anything but.

12-14 May, 2016, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA Verizon TV production compound ©2016, Sam Cobb LAT Photo USA

12-14 May, 2016, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Verizon TV production compound
©2016, Sam Cobb
LAT Photo USA

The first part of the process is collecting all the data that will be used to display valuable information through the INDYCAR Mobile app. There are three main avenues that data is collected throughout a race: the race car, timing data, and video. The entire process uses about 400,000 Gigabytes of data per second. Yes, that’s 400 Terabytes! It also involves about 20 INDYCAR Mobile staff per event to get it all done.

Everyone knows video is the big thing this year. On average, 42 cameras (upgraded to 100 for the Indianapolis 500) are used to collect all the video that will be used in the app. Being the same cameras used for the television broadcast, the two feeds are essentially married, the app’s live feed could not exist without the television broadcast. All the video content is pumped through the same main television truck, decked out with a plethora of screens and control modules, suggesting more mission control than TV studio. The fleet of TV trucks, 16 in total, are used all over the U.S. with a variety of networks and sporting events ranging from the NBA to professional bull-riding.

Receiving all the video content from the TV truck, the HD4 truck streams video to the INDYCAR Mobile app. A variety of in-car video feeds are fed into the truck and disseminated. As any race fan would know, not every driver is guaranteed to finish, thus the Verizon Mobile app team makes sure to have a variety of feeds for back up. The INDYCAR Radio Network is also curated through the HD4 truck to ensure great radio coverage for the IndyCar series.

Buffering is a word that most internet streamers have come to know and hate, the enemy of both live and on demand content. Fans of the fastest sport in the world don’t want to wait a second longer for their videos to load, so Verizon has developed their LTE Multicast technology to deliver video to the app without the dreaded wait time. LTE Multicast is broadcast over a dedicated long term evolution bandwidth to deliver video with no buffering or lag time.

Very important to many racing geeks across the globe, live timing is another feature that is taken very seriously in INDYCAR Mobile, and it all comes through the 10 weekend warriors of the Timing and Innovation team. Timing and scoring starts with a timing transponder mounted to each Dallara IR–12 in the same spot. The transponder communicates with a decoder embedded into the racing surface at timing lines around the track. A timestamp, accurate to the ten-thousandths of a second is registered every time a transponder crosses a decoder. The same timing and scoring data used by Race Control is distributed to one of Verizon’s servers that distributes the information to the mobile app.

12-14 May, 2016, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA Verizon tour timing and scoring ©2016, Sam Cobb LAT Photo USA

12-14 May, 2016, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Verizon tour timing and scoring
©2016, Sam Cobb
LAT Photo USA

The final piece of the puzzle is all the telemetry data that is accessible to fans across the world. Telemetry data is transferred from the cars to a server on pit lane, then to the timing and scoring team using a WiMAX network called Live On Air. Real-Time information regarding RPM, position, steering angle, and throttle input are all sent from the cars, through the pit road server, to Verizon’s edge servers (on either coast of the U.S.), then to the app within a second. With all the data that the Timing and Innovation team gather and disseminate, they are accurate within half an inch at 200 mph. This is far more accurate than any commercially available GPS system!

All of these systems and teams help make the Verizon INDYCAR Mobile App informative and easy to use for users across the globe. The entire workload amounts to about 216 hours of preparation to set up trackside. What seems like a simple process is made possible through the various relationships and technologies that Verizon Wireless have invested in to bring IndyCar action closer to fans. This type of relationship with the series and fan activation is uncommon in any title sponsor of any sports sanctioning body. Verizon Wireless prove, through this app and other programs, that they aren’t here simply to throw their name on the series and sit idle.

12-14 May, 2016, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA Verizon tour timing and scoring ©2016, Sam Cobb LAT Photo USA

12-14 May, 2016, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Verizon tour timing and scoring
©2016, Sam Cobb
LAT Photo USA

If you haven’t checked out the Verizon INDYCAR Mobile app, whether on Verizon Wireless or another carrier, it’s one of the most useful tools for any race fan – or reporter – throughout the race weekend. Whether you’re at the track or away, the information and access available on INDYCAR Mobile is not only an informative way to watch the IndyCar Series, but is entertaining and fun to use. More information about the Verizon INDYCAR Mobile and can be found here, as well as the App Store links for iOS and Android. Live practice sessions for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil can be found all month long, along with the month of May schedule, directly in app.

As a mechanical engineer, Dusty’s passion is for sports cars and endurance racing. In his opinion, there’s nothing better than a race car closely based on a model that you can go out and buy from the manufacturer showroom. He’s very particular about his writing utensils and appreciates a great, cruelty free pomade.

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