If there's one thing we love about the current state of mobile devices, it's the innovation that's being ushered in by forward-thinking brands like event-specific handheld device group FanVision. With the FanVision Controller, these folks are bringing in in-depth information about the event they're covering with a device that's interactive, not just a tiny display, and connected to their data source via UHF. Believe it or not, the signals they're working with are an older technology than the mobile data your smartphone uses, but here at each live event they work with, it works one whole heck of a lot smoother.
We had a chance to speak with FanVision's VP of marketing mister Kevin Weinhoeft who was quick to tell us that the easiest way you can describe this device is to imagine you were at home watching the big race with a taste for all the data you could swallow in and around the track. You'd have to have your television, a computer, a radio, and maybe even your smartphone to get the same content you're able to get sitting at the live event with a FanVision Controller. The first person he told this story to made the case: "you must have been in my living room last time I watched a race, that's what I was doing exactly."
This device has live statistics, live cameras, and replays of events on the track right after they occur. UHF connectivity makes the dedicated network at the track possible and isn't interrupted by the massive amounts of data being blasted around with everyone else's smartphone. Weinhoeft spoke on how the device was made also to be relatively rough and tumble, too, not fragile like a smartphone or a tablet.
"FanVision was designed to work in the elements. Whether it's really cold weather or whether it's really hot weather or whatever else. Now it's not waterproof, by any stretch of the imagination, but - we've had a lot of races where there's rain or moisture or whatever where of course we don't have any issue with the device going down because it's getting a little bit of rain on it." - Weinhoeft
Everything you look at when you're at a race on the FanVision device is curated by the dedicated FanVision staff at the race. FanVision works with the cameras that are on-site and the information that comes direct from the source, updating every statistic and element as it changes.
"We're not doing any kind of production, we don't have people with cameras that are in the pits or in the garages or anything like that. We're taking content directly from, as an example, in Phoenix, we're taking the SprintVision content that's being fed to the track. So we're not - in essence - taking ESPN's content. And as a matter of fact, the radio broadcast for this weekend will be MRN. So if we're at an IFC track, it's MRN radio, and if we're at an SMI track, then it would be PRN radio."
Then there's the video - from the on-track cameras to the in-car cameras, you'll be getting more up-close-and-personal than you've ever been before, right on the FanVision Controller device. Weinhoeft makes it clear that the content they've got here is everything you've ever had on your television at home, the smart device in your pocket, and more - and right as it happens.
"The one thing, of course, we have is the live race. The second thing that is constant is that we have the fastest instant replay that's in production. What does change from race to race is the in-car cameras. We do have 8 in-car cameras for a cup race and typically for nation-wide as well. So the in-car cameras can change. As an example, last week, all of the in-car cameras for Cup were chase drivers. That's how the content can change from week to week.
One of the other things you'll see on the device is Driver Cards. Basically all the details about the drivers. All the information on the drivers is updated in real-time as well. So lets say, as an example, maybe the driver had a crew chief change. If the driver would have a crew chief change, then that data would change inside the Driver Card.
Another thing that would change is on the Twitter Feed. We have specific Twitter feeds on the device, but as we move from track to track: this weekend it would be the @PhoenixRaceway handle. as opposed to a track from earlier in the season."
Then there's the digital scanner - made to let you in on the radio feeds that are blasting back and forth across the track between crew chiefs and racers. Right out in the open, there for you to catch. If you'd love to get in just about as close as you possibly can without literally being in the pits (like SlashGear's own Vincent Nguyen will be this weekend, mind you, at the Advocare 500 Sprint Cup Series race), you'll need to listen in to the words being spoken by the crews using your own lovely radio scanner - built right in to the FanVision Controller.
"One of the biggest features on the device is the scanner. Because it's digital, there's no frequencies the fans have to program in. So they just select their drivers and they go.
The thing that goes with that, too, is instant replays. So you can listen to the last conversation between the driver and the pit. So as an example, something happens on the other side of the track and the drivers' got to go to the garage, well, you can go to that driver's Card and you can listen to their last conversation."
We'll be having a look at this device when we're live at the Advocare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race this Sunday as well as the following schedule of in-person events:
1. Pace Car Ride at speeds of 120+ MPH
2. Tour of NASCAR garage
3. Driver's Meeting
4. Meet and Greet with General Motors Racing's Chevrolet program manager for NASCAR's top-tier Sprint Cup Series Alba Colon
5. AdvoCare 500 race (312 laps, 312 miles) Sunday, Nov. 11, 3 p.m. ET on ESPN with LIVE coverage here on SlashGear from Vincent Nguyen!
Be sure you check out the SlashGear main news feed and our Twitter as well @SlashGear to stay up-to-date on all things technologically awesome in the automotive universe! Have a peek at our brand new NASCAR tag as well to keep crusing on this particular track!