Horseracing the Augmented Way
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Article by Virtual Worldlets Network
Copyright 14/10/2006
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Traditionally in horse-racing, there is a person, called the chartcaller who watches all races through binoculars, and announces the positions of the horses at each point of call into a tape recorder. This is then transcribed into the running lines for each race, to produce the race charts at the end of each race day.

This task is so difficult, most major racing tracks employ two chartcallers for each race - one designated to call the leading horses and the other to call the trailers. This human method of tracking produces rather a large margin for error, but, race fans continue to rely on information collected this way, trusting implicitly in the skill of the chartcaller every time they pick up a Racing Form to handicap a race.

Now, woodbine Racetrack is giving the simulcasting world a makeover with RFID. Using a radio-positioning system, their new product, Trakus triangulates the exact position of all horses during a race.

Simulcasting is a contraction of "simultaneous broadcasting", and in this instance, it makes reference to inserting a second signal over the top of one already transmitted on a channel, at the same time.

The Trakus system provides a digitally generated image of a racetrack, and tracks the position of each horse through a transponder in the saddlecloths. The transponder sends a digital signal to thirty antennas along the outside rail of the 1 1/2 mile racetrack, which triangulate both the horse's position to a handful of centimetres, and their speed. This information is then processed and fed back through the Trakus system in real time.

During the Woodbine telecast, the bottom third of the screen shows a graphical representation of the racetrack. Each horse is a colour-coded rectangle, with a key down the side, so the viewer can quickly tell which horse is leading and by how many lengths, how far each horse is off the rail, and, vital for those placing bets - where their bet is, in the pack, regardless of if the camera is on it, or not.

After the race is official and after the regular video replay of a race is shown, Woodbine's telecast shows a purely graphical re-enactment of the race, the Virtual Race.

Further Reading

Trakus Home page