F1 Innovation Prize 2018 winner set to enhance customised viewing experiences

James Gough is presented with his trophy during the TATA Communications Innovation Prize at Circuit of The Americas on October 18, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images for Tata Communications)

Formula 1 (F1) managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport driver Lewis Hamilton have crowned James Gough the winner of this year’s $50,000  (£38,000) F1 Innovation Prize at the F1 Pirelli 2018 US Grand Prix in Austin.

The lifelong F1 fan from the UK developed his entry around the ‘My F1’ themed challenge using the sport’s set of human, mechanical and technical data to create the ‘ultimate customised viewing experience’ for fans worldwide.

In a world-first for global sport, this year’s winning idea will be incubated with the intent to prototype it at F1’s Media & Technology Centre in the UK. During the incubation, James will work closely with F1 engineers to develop his idea.

F1 Innovation Prize is a joint initiative by Tata Communications, F1 and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. James beat out fierce competition from around the globe with his Virtual Smart Assistant idea, which stood out for the esteemed panel of judges. The app, which functions as a fan’s personal F1 guide, provides seamless, instant access to insights on each driver, team, car, practice session, qualifying or race-on-demand. As a result, it could help turn new fans from casual viewers into F1 experts, while offering hardcore fans a whole new level of insights.

Not only is the proposed solution integrated with existing smart assistants including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, it is also equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. So, the more a fan uses the Virtual Smart Assistant, the more it learns about their preferences, customising the information it offers accordingly.

The ‘My F1’ theme of this year’s competition is part of F1’s mission to enable everyone – from trackside fans to the most casual armchair viewer – to create their own, more customised F1 experiences using different data points and digital platforms.

“We want to break down the barriers of language and technical know-how so that more people around the world are able to immerse themselves in the greatest sporting spectacle on earth,” said Ross Brawn, F1. “Through new features like the Halo graphics and live events like our F1 Festival series, we’re continually looking for ways to bring more fans closer to the sport. That’s exactly what James’ winning idea seeks to do too in a truly innovative way. I look forward to seeing his concept come to life in our Media & Technology Centre.”

“This is such an exciting time for the sport, with more and more ways for people around the world to get close to the world of F1 – through social media, online, and of course the F1 Innovation Prize,” said Lewis Hamilton. “There’s so much happening at any given second during a race. James’ idea was my favourite because it lets both die-hard fans and those who might be new to the sport make sense of it all and really immerse themselves in the action.”

“I’ve been a huge fan of F1 since I was a teenager, but never in a million years did I think that one day I’d get the chance to be part of the F1 circus – that’s why winning means so much to me,” said James Gough. “Through my app, I want other fans to get a glimpse of being on the inside of the sport they love. I hope that my idea will help give fans access to all the data they want, and that they’re able to use the data to not only see what’s happening but to understand why it happened. It should lead to more people getting involved in the sport.”

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