They say comparisons are the path to disappointment (and by ‘they’ I mean therapists, not Crofty, he loves them), but sometimes they’re unavoidable. Take this week – one minute I was watching a demo of Microsoft’s HoloLens, and the next a debate on the ironically poor access that F1 Access on F1.com gives you. And then a sad discrepancy became obvious – on one side you have exciting technologies developing every day and on the other, F1 broadcasting looks more or less the same ever since I can remember it. To be fair though, I am a 25-year-old with a pensioner’s memory.
Nonetheless, most sports seem to fail when it comes to taking advantage of available gadgetry. Football refuses to rely on goal line technology even if that would make referees a much less endangered species, while tennis insists on showing us slow-motion shots of angry distorted faces ahead of anything else. Closer to home, F1 had that 180° camera that gave you motion sickness and a second of panic before you realised that no one is actually crashing. Whatever happened to that?
At least they’re trying. But between the disappearance of FanVision at racetracks and Race Control features only available to select broadcasters, I don’t feel like F1 is worth changing my cable supplier, much less sitting in a puddle of Hungaroring mud.
You can breathe now, the criticism part is done. Or at least that’s the plan. Instead, I’m taking a (more or less) serious look at what F1 broadcasting could be ten years from now, provided Bernie doesn’t sell the exclusive rights to iRolex.
Oculus Rift Paddock Experience
We’re theoretically a year away from owning the already notorious Oculus Rift, so it’s not impossible to imagine how we could use it to improve fans viewing experiences. A live virtual reality system does sound like a huge challenge to implement, but it’s not an impossible task [insert randomly chosen motivational quote from Fernando Alonso’s Twitter feed].
First of all, it could make practice sessions less boring if I could just put the glasses on and virtually walk through the paddock, sneak a peek inside the garages or observe the action track-side. No safety issues, no secrets to hide, no people to bother. Plus, no toilet lines and no dirty shoes. Like making your own Ted’s Notebook, except you’ll be having lunch in your own kitchen, not on some plastic bin.
While I can’t spare $25 for live timing, I would honestly pay to see beautiful liveries not tainted by mismatched logos. Or, if sponsorship is still not sorted otherwise by then, at least filter what I see by demographics so I get Louis Vuitton and IKEA, instead of Red Bull and Petronas.
I find it hard to believe that it would be a big thing to make happen, especially in a world where I can filter H&M dresses by the type of animal print and Bernie can CGI travel brochures and retirement cards on large patches of asphalt.
Live Updates on HoloLens
Yes, HoloLens is for dorks, and I say that lovingly, but this is an instance where it could come in handy; either as a substitute for FanVision or just something to immerse you and your entire sofa more into the action. While you can simply enjoy the genuine race experience from the grandstands, it couldn’t hurt to (literally) keep an eye on live timings, updates, replays and whatever’s going on in the other 10 turns you can’t really see.
You can just pop up a small 3D model of the live tracking graphic, get weather updates or predicted championship standings. Too much information? Maybe, but it’s easier when you can just see it with the corner of your eye instead of searching on your phone and missing out on the action.
F1 2025 Live Gameplay
Assuming that video games are still cool in a decade (or whatever the kids will be saying in the next decade), wouldn’t you enjoy a boring race more if you were part of it? Sorry for assuming F1 will still be boring 10 years from now, but gaming will never be unpopular. You’d be lining up on the grid, with your own team, driving your own car and making your own strategy calls according to what happens in the real race. Like Grand Theft Auto meets Age of Empires (are those two still a thing?).
You won’t get a trophy, won’t be drenched in champagne or have your name chanted, but at least it would feel like being part of the circus. And pretty fun too. I’d try my hand, at least until I get lapped more times than Max Chilton.
Interactive Audience Firewall
Just a little something to stop the ‘waving spam’, ie all those people lurking more or less discretely behind reporters, waving at the camera to other people who sit back home, rolling their eyes and thinking ‘idiot’. Or worse, people taking selfies of their 10 seconds of live TV fame. Now it’s not something absolutely vital for the show but it would personally give me a strange degree of satisfaction.
Online Race Archive
I leave you with a simple one: make the darn races available online, even if it is for one of those ridiculously high, almost trademark, price tags. It’s a travesty I can watch MotoGP races from the year their current world champion was born in but I can hardly find a recording of last week’s F1 podium in Barcelona – there goes another comparison that doesn’t do much to flatter F1. How hard can it be? That’s your next task Bernie, and you have ten years to do it!