12:02 PM ET (Steph) – Just got back from a great tour of Verizon’s facilities here at IMS, and their setups are very impressive. We started in the IndyCar Fan Village, where Verizon has a number of their consumer technologies on display for IndyCar fans to play with, including various devices that let you use your mobile device to get diagnostics from your car, turn off a coffee maker you left on at home, and pay for purchases. If you’re at the track, it’s worth paying a visit to the Fan Village to check these things out. If not, you can find these things and many more on display at your local Verizon Smart Store. The company started rolling these out late last year, and while it’s still a work in progress there may be a Smart Store in your area. Have a look around and see if you can find one in your area.
The highlight of the tour, though, was our visit to Verizon’s suite on the 10th floor of the Pagoda. They had a number of very interesting technologies on display there for guests to play with, but the most interesting one for IndyCar fans is the demonstration of Multicasting. Verizon is using the commercial wireless network for the first time this weekend to test an initial roll-out of this technology, which will utilize the 200-antenna DAS they’ve implemented here at the Speedway this weekend (that already benefits everyone with a Verizon phone by vastly improving network coverage) to distribute high-quality broadcast and in-car video plus live timing feeds directly to equipped devices. Imagine being in your seat at the Speedway and having the race broadcast on your phone or tablet right in your hand and you have an idea of what Verizon is working toward. It also runs on a different band from other signals, so it doesn’t interfere with phone calls, texting, or other data. The technology is only available to teams this weekend, but Verizon says that the network side of the technology is already set to go via their nationwide 4G LTE network and that they’re essentially just waiting for content providers and phone manufacturers to catch up. They’ll be showing the system off at four more IndyCar events this year — Iowa, Milwaukee, Sonoma, and Fontana — so expect to hear a lot more about it as the season goes on.
I also had a chance to ask about whether international IndyCar fans will ever have access to the INDYCAR 14 mobile app. I was told that the limited distribution is a holdover from when Verizon wasn’t as active in IndyCar, and now that they’re a title sponsor we may see greater availability in the future. So, it’s not a closed book, international fans — speak up and make your interest known, and there’s a better chance that you’ll be able to make it happen.
Speaking of Verizon, some of you may remember that we had a writer for a while named Hannah who wrote a column for us called A Smaller View, which gave a child’s perspective on activities at IMS. Well, that writer’s real name is Kylee Condre. We gave her a pseudonym when she wrote for us because she was younger, but now she’s 13 and is still enjoying IndyCar racing and writing about it. She recently wrote a blog for Verizon on using mobile technology to augment enjoyment of IndyCar races. You can find that blog post by clicking here.
I loitered a little bit past my welcome in the suite to watch the first few laps of Carb Day practice — who wouldn’t? The view from up there is incredible. I just posted a photo on our Instagram account @MoreFrontWing if you’d like to take a look. Between the two outdoor patios up there, you can see every corner of the Speedway. And even though it’s 10 stories up, the ethanol fumes still make their way up there. Verizon’s VIP guests are very lucky people indeed.
By the way, Larry the Cable Guy is here this morning making appearances and chatting with the media. He’s sitting about 10 feet in front of me and has been for at least half an hour. He’s been very gracious with his time and talking about what a great time he’s having here at IMS.
IndyCar practice is just about to finish up here. Sage Karam had a light contact with the turn 4 wall that he did very well to keep from being a heavy contact, but otherwise practice thus far has appeared to go to plan. Once it’s done, I’ll be running down to pit lane for the Indy Lights driver intros and grid!
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