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Racing against real F1 drivers in real time – the future of gaming?

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July 23, 2008

GPS technology to put gamers in the action

GPS technology to put gamers in the action

July 23, 2008 Video games have evolved to the point where they fairly accurately depict what a real racing car driver experiences as they hurtle around the track. Gamers can compete against friends and strangers across the globe thanks to the Internet, but now BBC News is reporting on a new technology that will allow gamers to take on real opponents in real races in real time, using GPS data from the cars.

iOpener’s patented system, which uses an enhanced GPS system known as differential GPS (DGPS), takes real-time GPS data from racing events and sends it to compatible consoles and PCs. The DGPS system is commonly used for air navigation or shipping where precision is key and uses a network of fixed base stations to correct the GPS signal, which on its own may only be accurate to within 10m.

The system works like this:
  • The car position is located with Global Navigation Satellite Systems
  • Location data and car telemetry is beamed to a track side server
  • Data is tagged with unique ID of the car and sent over the internet
  • Information stored on servers and "mediacast" to gamers.

The whole process from car to gamer takes less than five seconds and, "With that we know the location and the velocity of the car," iOpener founder Andy Lurling told BBC News. As further precision is needed, iOpener can use information from the European EGNOS network, which augments GPS satellite signals to provide positional data accurate to within 2m.

Other tweaks include fitting cars with an inertial measurement unit (IMU), commonly used in guided missile systems, which measure acceleration, angle and yaw of the object and, combined with DGPS, give the location of the car to within less than 30cm. In addition, the system collects telemetry data from the car, which is fitted with a small computer, transmitter and the GPS receiver. "That is already good enough data for a game," said Mr Lurling.

The company does not intend to develop its own games but instead will provide the backbone for games developers to build on to. “It's clear that the next trend in gaming is going to be bringing real objects into the virtual world; playing not against other gamers but people doing the real thing," said Mr Lurling. At the moment, iOpener is concentrating firmly on racing games, but believes that there is a huge market for the system in other sports such as biking, rowing, skiing and snowboarding. While the prospect of testing ones mettle against real life heroes definitely sounds exciting, it might also highlight just how far off the pace you are as the real life competitors leave you in their wake on the first lap.

Source: BBC News.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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