Selected fans at last month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring had an additional way to follow the race, with IMSA having debuted an innovative new portable streaming media device that may just be the next big thing in trackside entertainment.
The device — called Viuing — provides the live race feed, IMSA Radio and a basic leaderboard, all in a lightweight, single-use packaging that’s only slightly larger in size to a full-sized smartphone.
Developed by a Spanish company under the same name, Viuing was rolled out as a pilot program at Sebring, and according to IMSA’s VP of Marketing, David Pettit, it’s already been hailed as a success.
Unlike smartphones or tablets that relies on cellular data or Wifi, Viuing utilizes low-band UHF signals to transmit video and audio in real time, which Pettit sees as a major advantage for fans trackside.
“You always run into a lot of connectivity issues at the track,” he told Sportscar365. “While we have a great App, it’s always pretty frustrating when [the fans] get to a track and they get random snippets through the audio, the PA or TV, the jumbo-tron, or they have to go on their phone to connect.
“So coming up with a solution that’s realistic, all the time anywhere… I’ve been aware of UHF for a while and we looked into doing a dongle that you could attach to your phone. But it didn’t seem to work.
“These guys came in [six] weeks ago and put the deal together to make it happen.”
The device, which measures 6 x 4.5 inches, features a 4-inch anti-glare screen and provides up to six hours of battery life. It’s also waterproof and includes a set of headphones and a neck strap.
As part of the pilot program, Pettit said 400 of the single-use, disposable devices were sold to fans at Sebring for $39.95 each. IMSA sold out of its stock at the event.
At Sebring, the device had limited range, roughly a three-quarter mile radius from the paddock due to only a single UHF antenna, but Pettit said there are plans to install multiple antennas at for complete coverage at other events later this year.
He’s also hopeful of adding multiple channels, to include on-board cameras, as well as potentially live timing and scoring, in future models.
A rechargeable version of the device, which has also been used in MotoGP and Formula E, is also in the works.
“We’ll probably end up working with the tracks at some point, where when you go buy your ticket package, we’d include that in there, and there’d be a coupon to use the [device]. We’re looking to make it more turn-key,” Pettit added.
While not likely being available at Long Beach due to the complexities of the street race, Pettit said they’ll have the devices on sale at the following IMSA round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca later this month.