Project Description

Immersive VR for F1

Ahead of the Austin Formula 1 Grand Prix, the UK Department of International Trade were looking for examples of cutting edge design to showcase British talent. Conjure had been experimenting with VR as a data delivery tool, and so our 3D team opted to create a live racing data centre wrapped in an immersive VR experience.

THE RESULTS

  • System could display up to thirty data slates at 60 fps
  • Over 100 data points could be supplied via dedicated API
  • 15 Custom shaders allowed system to adjust transparency on stacked slates in real time
  • Built a working prototype in under two weeks 
  • Was selected as the only UK digital showcase at the race event

THE BRIEF

Objectives

  • Design an intuitive and immersive F1 data experience
  • Create a working prototype that could be easily installed and set up in Austin
  • Simulate data to mimic the live experience

Challenge

The concept of running data in VR is not a new one, but we wanted to bring a series of our own innovations to the concept, namely around the use of next-gen 3D techniques. We knew we wouldn’t have access to live data, and so would have to simulate data points in a way that would sell the wider concept when on display at the racing event.

From a technical standpoint, we knew that polycount was unlikely to give us problems as actual 3D geometry would be kept to a minimum. That said, stacking multiple live feeds and data slates on top of each and keeping the framerate high and stable would pose a serious challenge, and we had only two weeks to deliver the finished platform.

Our Approach

Eschewing our standard programme delivery framework we opted to use our Innovation Sprint model, having the designers, 3D artists and developers working in parallel.

The visual style of the system was laid out in Figma, allowing input from multiple designers on the fly. As each data slate was laid out 3D would create a rapid mockup in Unity for sign-off.

As data slate design went from UX to design to 3D a lightweight simulation engine was written to generate realistic, yet randomised data such as split times and tyre PSI changes.

As each new element was added to the On Station platform the system was collectively tested by all involved to ensure data order and controls we’re legible and intuitive.

The finished On Station platform comprised of over twenty data slates that floated in space around the user. All aspects of race data were available, including: TPMS, weather, track position, split times, sector and lap records along with multiple live feeds from both track side and team garages.   

In the platform’s default state data slates would drift slowly into the background as they became less relevant. For instance if there was little risk of rain on track, the weather slate would move away and with depth of field applied allow the user to focus more relevant data, such as tyre lifespan.  

The user can customise the interface by grabbing slates with the controllers and repositioning them in 3D space. This allows data to be stacked, placing position circles over live feeds or split times over tyre wear graphics, effectively allowing the user to build their own bespoke data views.

The sprint team consisted of UX, UI, and 3D Development specialists designing in Figma and Blender with development undertaken in Unity. Management was kept to a minimum to speed up the project, with our design director overseeing creative output and our technical director supporting development. 

A first of its kind, the finished platform was demonstrated successfully in America to rave reviews.

A brilliant fusion of data and experience. Conjure have created something truly unique.

Eric Zapalac, CEO Pinpoint Consulting