Formula E, the electric version of Formula One, is seeking to knock its better-known rival off the top viewing spot by making the sport more interactive for fans.
The sport is working with Intellicore, a sports data platform provider, to make the most of dual-screens, whereby those watching the race, either in the stadium or on Television, can enhance their experience by accessing further insights via an app on their smartphone or tablet.
For roughly a year the software powering this technology and making sense of all the data has been Basho Technologies’ Riak KV and Riak TS NoSQL database solutions.
Formula E adopts IoT
Riak is an open-source, distributed NoSQL key/value database optimized for series data. Based on Amazon DynamoDB, it was created to be simple to use and to “never lose data,” according to Etheridge.
It also provides a time series database solution that is extensible and scalable, which is exactly what’s needed for what Formula E is trying to achieve.
Some context: Formula E is taking advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT). In every race, each car has roughly 40 sensors that monitor things like acceleration and the temperature of batteries. Etheridge explained that this data gets measured 20 times a second and goes to Basho’s database.
“At the end of each race, each car generates 1 gigabyte [of data] that is captured [by Basho],” Etheridge said. That equates to “40,000 data transactions per second in one Formula E race…which is small, the system is designed for much more.” A Formula E race typically lasts around 50 minutes.
What makes this cool for fans?
“You can have your tablet and smartphone while watching it [Formula E],” Etheridge told the audience. “If you push the red button, you can watch from the point of view of the driver; every car has a 360 degree camera on it. You can see what the driver is seeing…you can choose your favourite driver and follow them from track to track. And, the new thing, you can also choose the viewpoint you want to have.” Etheridge indicated that this experience would be even further enhanced by the technologies like Virtual Reality (VR).
To make all of this happen, every piece of data picked up by the sensors on the cars is sent via radio frequencies to a hub on the track. Once there, it goes into a telemetry engine that enhances the data so that it knows which car is which. The data then goes into the key/value version of Basho’s database where it is normalized. This is done because not all the tracks are the same length, nor is the humidity ever the same, so sensor readings must be adjusted accordingly. Having normalized the data, it is sent into the Riak TS database and from there it can be used to power the applications discussed earlier.
Given what Formula E is trying to achieve then, it’s imperative for Intellicore that the database doesn’t fail, Etheridge affirmed. If the live stream fails, the main thing that differentiates Formula E from Formula One falls completely flat.
Internet of Business caught up with Basho’s EMEA managing director, Manu Marchal, after the talk to find out more. He explained that, while Formula E has not yet revealed the full benefits of this program, there are some interesting perks for fans. For example, ‘fan boost’ is a social media engagement campaign whereby fans can vote for their favourite driver, and the racer with the most votes is rewarded with more energy in the battery.
It’s a neat idea, and Marchal indicated there are more like it in the pipeline so it will be interesting to see the extent to which fans react.
For those who aren’t as familiar with Basho Technologies, it is also working with The Weather Company, the technology that powers the iPhone weather app.