America’s Cup apps a glimpse of future sports experience

The mobile apps that virtually put you aboard America’s Cup boats hint at the immersive experience sports events could become, says Ian Taylor, head of Animation Research, which collaborated to make them.

As well as the official cup app for iPad, iPhone and Android, the company made Emirates Team New Zealand’s app for iTunes and Android and Oracle Team USA Speed Trial.

The free America’s Cup app was downloaded 110,000 times during the recently-completed Louis Vuitton racing series.

It gives users news, results, videos and race schedules, a real-time leader board and Animation Research’s Virtual Eye viewer. Virtual Eye is the company’s real-time 3D graphics technology – the company began developing real-time graphics for the America’s Cup in 1992.

The app also has live team audio and race updates from officials.

“It’s a showcase of how sport may very well be covered in the future. It gives you an immersive experience of a sport that is totally different to that which we have become accustomed to in the traditional TV world,” says Taylor. “This is coverage delivered as you want it, when you want it, where you want it – with the added opportunity to become directly involved through social media – all on one screen.

“The warning here for normal TV is people are over being offered only one screen to look at.”

Taylor sees potential for these types of apps to extend to other sports like Ashes cricket – where it could use footage gathered by stump cams – and Formula One.

The key to developing the America’s Cup app was having unprecedented access to the America’s Cup Event Authority’s content, says Taylor.

“We have access to all of the live world feed TV coverage as well as access to the on board cameras and audio. We have access to all of the tracking data and stats coming live from the boats. The app is linked in directly to all of the Youtube feeds that are being generated and the social media chat that [Animation Research sailing operations manager John Rendall] was responsible for building means we are able to see behind the scenes content provided directly to the app by the teams.”

The app’s lead developer was Stu Sharpe of Cannonball Software in Queenstown, a former Animation Research staff member. 

Timaru’s SoftwareX worked on the Android version while Greengage Consulting built a low detail 3D virtual viewer for the iOS apps.

Nathan Martin from Moving Pixel was the lead graphics designer.

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