- Military Boekelo is a top sports event from Twente
- Advanced wireless networks testing ground for Saxion researchers
- Personalised panoramic footage at each obstacle for spectators
Imagine: as a true fan, you visit the Military and are located somewhere at the track. You don’t want to miss a moment of your favourite horse tackling obstacles. Fortunately, an app on your phone sends updates about the location of your favourite horse, and displays live images of the obstacle of your choice. Until now, the public is provided with information using speakers and large screens at strategic places.
You get full control of the images you see with the new Event Information System (EIS). This spectator-friendly system is powered by a complex wireless network, panoramic camera’s and location sensors on participants. Developing such a system costs a lot of time and effort.
The panoramic images, the network and its associated hardware and the visitor app are tested during the Military week. The app is not open for public yet as the technology is first tested by the researchers. They have managed to link images from multiple standalone cameras to form one panoramic 360 degrees image. The technology behind the positioning of the horses and riders has also been designed and realised. The network architecture design has been improved compared to last year. In addition, the smartphone app for visitors is ready to be tested this year, even though it is a mock-up, simulating the final system. The final step in the development of the app is to replace this simulated system with the real system. The EIS will have a positive impact on how visitors experience the event, but also is a great example of how events in Twente serve as a testing ground for technological innovation.
The Military project brings knowledge institutions and interested companies together, thus promoting the link between talent and company. Tech For Future (TFF) has made this project possible by providing a subsidy. TFF is a partnership between Saxion and Windesheim, supporting companies that want to innovate in the field of High-tech Systems & Materials (HTSM). Employees of FIGO from Enschede, specialised in networking, bring in knowledge and a part of the required network equipment. In addition, a University of Twente student who is currently doing an internship at FIGO is participating in several brainstorm sessions to share his knowledge about wireless networks. Research is carried out by 4 to 5 employees of the Ambient Intelligence (AMI) research group at Saxion. Thales provides a patented concept that enables high bandwidth transmission over large distances using WiFi, enabling wireless video transmission.
RTV-Oost is also a partner in the project. RTV-Oost currently has installed large professional cameras that need to be manned at a few of the obstacles. Therefore, the broadcaster naturally has an interest in the panoramic images of every obstacle. The organisation of The Military is also a partner. Military Boekelo is committed to innovation and technology, and is, of course, interested in improving the visitor experience.
The project does not only bring a novel ‘product’ to the Military, but it also drives innovation and research in the fields of wireless networking, video editing and the applied software. Existing WiFi technology must be used in a completely different way should it wirelessly bridge such large distances with high bandwidth. The project pushes the boundaries of this technology, creating innovations along the way. “Such innovations, contributing to the field of networking, are driving us. The technology has been around for more than twenty years and improved continuously. We apply this technology in a special and unique way,” says Jan Laarhuis.
We are able to build such a system due to recent technological developments. The fact that smartphones are now widespread makes it possible to carry out a project at this scale. In addition, the 360-degrees cameras that are required for the project are now affordable. “We identify existing components, such as WiFi, and try to create a unique system that can function in a completely new way. At the same time, we give those existing components a twist of our own through software, control and integration. It will really become a unique concept.”
Jan Laarhuis started the ambitious “TFF Military” project in September 2018. He formed a project group and started researching the design of an Event Information System. The EIS continues to develop every year. Progress is the result of many brainstorming sessions and fanatic research. This year, the development is focused on enabling real-time tracking of all individual horses via smartphones. In the coming year - the project runs until 2020 - the EIS will be further developed. Next year, Jan Laarhuis is planning to develop a jury app that provides the jury with better information, just like the visitors. “We like to refer to it as the goal-line technology for equestrian sports. The jury would be able to review images, just like the VAR in football, before reaching a judgement. This way, we hope that the sport becomes fairer. Everyone should get the points they deserve.”
The Military offers a unique opportunity for researchers to test a project of this scale and to implement improvements based on practical results. The Military is a testing ground in Twente on which top sport and technology are brought together and create new innovations.