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The world’s first test of truly live 360º video at the 2017 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix was conducted by Formula 1 and Tata Communications on Sept. 25 to show how the F1 racing experience could be augmented for fans worldwide by enabling them to experience the show in action almost as if they were there.

To-date, any 360º video experiments in sports have been hampered by a 30-second delay between the 360º video and live TV feeds, preventing a widespread adoption of the technology. This proof-of-concept by Tata Communications and Formula 1 is the first time when the live 360º video feeds and TV broadcast have been shown in complete sync.

There were two 360º cameras at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore in the trackside and paddock to show how viewers at home could immerse themselves in the world of F1 and experience these exclusive areas through a virtual reality (VR) like environment via the Official F1 App.

For example, during a Grand Prix build-up, fans could use their tablet to access a live 360º video feed from the paddock and see the biggest names in the sport. Or, during a race, as a driver pulls into the pits for a tyre change, fans could complement the action on TV with a 360º view of everything that is happening in the pit lane in real-time. 

“We’ve done this test to show how a fan could watch Lewis, Sebastian or any other drivers coming into the pits on TV, grab their tablet and get a second, completely in sync 360º view of everything going on around him while he is there - not 30 seconds after he has driven off!” said John Morrison, Chief Technical Officer, Formula 1.

“We want to unleash the full potential the F1 fan experience through the latest digital technologies,” said Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations, Formula 1. “Through this proof of concept, we’ve explored how live 360º video, and next VR, could transport fans from across the globe to the middle of the thrilling world of F1® and enable them to immerse themselves in each Grand Prix™ like never before.”

The live 360º video proof-of-concept follows close collaboration between Tata Communications and Formula 1 during the last five seasons to lay the foundations for the sport’s digital transformation, testing in action technologies such as UHD video and live broadcasting over the Internet (OTT), which could enable fans to experience F1 in new ways too. 

“This proof of concept shows the potential of live 360º video to augment the F1 TV viewing experience and bring VR mainstream in live sports and entertainment,” said Mehul Kapadia, Managing Director of Tata Communications’ F1 Business. “Eliminating the delay in 360º video means that, for the first time, it’s possible to offer fans truly live 360º video experiences on a global scale. This will enable sports and entertainment organisations to engage with their audiences in new ways and generate new revenue streams – helping the 360º video and VR market achieve its USD $60 billion potential.”