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Surprising modern mixes of racing, the internet and technology
From William Porter: May 2018

There aren't many who predicted the coming of the internet, and there are even fewer who understood exactly just how far it and related technology would integrate with our lives. These days we tend to take this sort of evolution for granted, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't take a step back every now and then to appreciate just how far we've come. So how has this helped racing with the popularity it sees today, what technology is available that many of us don't know about, and what other industries are jumping on board this new technological bend?

The Internet and the Nags

Some of us remember the age of betting before the internet. Newspapers, strict television and radio programming, and enormous inconvenience all around. As it has done for so many industries, the internet utterly revolutionised the way in which we both watch the races, and engage with them. Now we can stream many races easily, at high quality, and from the comfort of our own homes. Even this isn't a necessity at this point, however, as we can pretty much watch and check in from anywhere with an internet connection, as our mobile devices have long had the power to decode live internet streams.

It might seem a little counterintuitive in a way, but the spread of the internet has also helped many more people watch and enjoy the sport than ever before. What we mean is that while televisions and radio broadcasts are often considered as having lower barriers to entry that internet streams, remember that what they showed was much more limited in timing and scope, and this form of transmission via radio waves cannot compare to the reliability of a solid direct internet connection. Instead of mostly local races, we can now watch even lesser races from the other side of the world. In turn, this helped build community and interest and helped create a more visible worldwide racing presence than ever before.

Surprising New Engagement

For the next big step in horse racing, we need to look no further than the current virtual reality and augmented reality technology which is slowly becoming part of mainstream media and technology. This stuff might seem a little confusing to the uninitiated, so we'll explain.

Virtual reality is delivered through those full headset like devices which you can place on top of your head. When activated, these can pass information through the screens and speakers within the devices which give off the impression of being immersed in an environment. Why does this matter to the sport of racing? Well, because as this technology becomes better adopted it has also seen its way into becoming a part of live sports broadcasts. What this means is that users who access to this technology can log in to certain servers during live or pre-recorded games, and place themselves virtually among the crowd, or in their own private box, from the comfort of their own home. While users obviously can't interact with those on the other end (yet), they do get a virtual first-hand experience of the thrill and atmosphere of the race.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, is a little harder to relate to modern racing, though the potential is there. For this technology, virtual representations of objects are placed in real environments, through a secondary screen or VR headset device. What this means is that a company could, in theory, display a full real-time race through AR, and project the race onto something like you living-room table. You could have a birds-eye-view of the entire race, and that's something which we would personally love to experience.

Gathering Communication and Capitalisation

One of the methods of engagement which you might have already seen to draw in new users is the association of the already incredibly popular sport of horse racing with other media. We can see this in video games like Starters Orders 6, from Strategic Designs, which is an in-depth racing and management sim. Even slot games from online casinos like Joefortune are getting in on the action, as they use themes like racing to help draw in those interested in both aspects of gaming, racing and slots.

Not Always Predictable

Major changes which are brought on by shifts of technology are not always easy to predict. While interest in racing has been steadily growing for years, there is no telling exactly how large an effect more modern technology could bring to the sport. What we do know is that greater engagement and bigger communities are a given, but it could be that we've only half-way there compared to just how far this industry could grow. Whatever the future of racing and technology bring, we know we'll be there, and we couldn't be more excited.


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