The Head Of The Charles Regatta, the world's largest event of its kind, draws an estimated 300,000 spectators to the banks of the Charles River every year, with competitors coming to Boston from throughout the US, all over Europe and as far away as China.
This year, technology will make it far easier for spectators and competitors to follow the race and conduct post-race analyses than ever before.
It's always been a challenge for spectators and competitors at other regattas to get better access to results in real-time, and have the ability after the event to analyze the data. Accenture in Boston helps bring the Head Of The Charles deeper into the Information Age. Working collaboratively with Powerhouse Timing, an Accenture team from Boston and their Chicago-based Technology Labs is adding meaningful enhancements for the total event experience, as well as looking at ways additional innovations can be used in the future.
This year's HOCR will supplement hard copy reports stapled and posted on bulletin boards at a few locations along the river, with the availability of text messaged results, highly-visual displays, and interactive kiosks that make use of information visualization technology while offering dynamic updates with such features as analytics, live streaming video and real-time results reporting.
The inclination to bring in new age technology began when Fred Schoch, HOCR's Executive Director, saw similar Accenture technology used at the New York City Triathlon in 2006. He contacted the company and proposed they become an event partner in the 2007 Head Of The Charles Regatta. The collaboration with Accenture and Powerhouse Timing soon began.
The browser-based display developed by Accenture Technology Labs features kiosks and plasma screens that will be set up along the river, offering the following benefits to competitors and spectators:
Dynamic updates of boats every 15 to 30 seconds
Head-to-head comparisons between boats
Progress of boats based on start time, splits and finish
Accenture will station kiosks at the Rowing & Fitness EXPO, in the Media Center at Cambridge Boat Club, and at Reunion Village; the kiosks are interactive, allowing spectators to conduct analysis on current and completed race events. Plasma displays will be set up in the Rowing & Fitness EXPO, Reunion Village, and the Director's VIP tent to show race results as they happen.
Live results throughout the weekend for all the events will be online at www.hocr.org/results/Accenture. Online viewers will be able to see how each event unfolds at each split station, can easily look up an entry or event, see live streaming video from Cambridge Boat Club, and interactively analyze competitor performance for completed events. Anyone can also get live results sent to their PDA or mobile phone by texting HOCR to 85700. Next year, on-line results analytics will be available to enable plenty of off-season strategizing.
As anyone who has ever spent a day at the Regatta can attest, the time trial format and the sheer numbers of people in attendance have made it impossible for spectators to focus on the performance of a particular boat. Accenture has been able to enhance the spectator experience by providing to the technology to see the progress of each boat in real-time, at each timing station. The mystery of how a boat is doing during each race will be virtually eliminated.
How are times actually captured by HOCR?
HOCR's esteemed Computer Timing Committee guarantees the capture of precise times for each entry along the 3-mile course. A FinishLynx Camera System, operated by trained volunteers, records a highly accurate time of day--to 1/100th of a second--for each bow as it crosses the start line at BU's DeWolfe boathouse, various split timing stations along the course, and the finish line at Herter Part in Brighton. It then calculates the differences between the points to assign times for each bow.
Reporting of times is coordinated by a central Network Operations Center (a/k/a "The NOC") staffed by experienced volunteers who have worked with the Regatta for years, and work in conjunction with HOCR's umpires and judges. Before Regatta weekend, all Computer Timing volunteers receive hands-on orientation and training with the specialized line-scanning camera system.
At the 43rd Head Of The Charles Regatta, October 20 & 21, technology will "catch" up with one of the word's oldest sports.
For more info about Accenture Technology Labs go to www.accenture.com/techlabs.
Get real-time results this weekend at www.hocr.org/results/Accenture.