Race fans won’t be able to attend the Indianapolis 500 in person at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this year due to COVID-19, but Verizon, the iconic track and NBC Sports are teaming up to make sure some viewers at home have a unique front row seat.
For the first time ever, Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service will be used to transport select fans into the center of the action during the live race. A high-definition, 5G-enabled, 360-degree camera will be placed on the infield and these fans can then access an AR portal on their smartphone and be virtually transported to the track. These fans can also control their view — choosing their favorite angles or perspectives — providing a unique, front row-style, viewing experience from the comfort and safety of their own home.
One of the fan highlights at the Indy 500, the public driver’s meeting is held at the track annually the day before the race. Fans get to wander through the garages and see all 33 drivers hours before they “start their engines.” Since fans won’t be able to attend this year due to COVID-19, Verizon is also teaming with IMS to host the time-honored tradition virtually. Race fans worldwide can watch as the event is live streamed on Verizon’s recently acquired BlueJeans platform. The event will be held August 22nd at 10 am ET on Verizon’s Twitter and YouTube channels and IMS.com.
“Thanks to Verizon, fans around the globe will be given unprecedented digital access to the biggest personalities and the most exciting behind-the-scenes action of this year’s Indianapolis 500,” said Jonathan Gibson, Executive Vice President, Penske Corporation. “From 5G powered Race Day footage to a public drivers meeting on an innovative platform like BlueJeans, we’re excited to team up with Verizon for an epic Race Weekend.”
5G-Delivered Footage Used in TV Broadcast
Verizon is also working with NBC Sports to show how 5G Ultra Wideband can transform the way live sports broadcasts are captured and produced. Verizon will have a 5G-connected broadcast camera on the track near the start-finish flag stand. The video from the camera will be streamed over 5G to the broadcast compound where NBC Sports producers will incorporate select shots into the live broadcast. With Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband’s low latency and high bandwidth, broadcast quality video can be transmitted wirelessly to producers, whether onsite or offsite. Plus, 5G’s wireless connectivity means that cameras are untethered allowing for unique camera angles and reducing setup time on the track.
“With so many sports fans unable to attend live events due to the pandemic, 5G can help bring them into the heart of the action and provide a new and immersive viewing experience using applications like augmented and virtual reality,” said Nicki Palmer, chief product development officer at Verizon. “For broadcasters, 5G means no wires on the track giving camera people the ability to move around quickly and gather various shots. It also means producers don’t need to travel and be on-site at sporting events enabling them to produce broadcasts from anywhere in the world.”
Team Penske leveraged 5G Ultra Wideband during practice at last year’s race to analyze performance of cars coming in and out of the first turn. By streaming high-quality video content over 5G connected cameras, Team Penske was able to better analyze a driver’s performance and make real-time changes while the car was still on track.