Oracle goes James Bond

More go-faster gadgetry for Larry Ellison's team

Tuesday January 7th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Australasia
The BMW Technology Office USA in Palo Alto, California has transferred microdisplay technology, originally developed for Ralf Schumacher’s Formula 1 helmet, to the ORACLE BMW Racing sailing team to assist them in its bid for the America‘s Cup 2003. In a successful transfer of technology, BMW has created an integrated system - introduced as Miniature Head-Up Display - that displays real-time race information directly and wirelessly into the sunglasses of individual sailors on the boat.

With boat performance data projected directly to his eyes, an ORACLE BMW Racing sailor is able to concentrate better on his tasks without having to struggle to read the traditional displays located around the boat. An onboard interface unit provides information of the sailboat‘s telemetry system and sends this individually tailored data to the display on the sailor’s sunglasses. Fast and accurate access to this information can provide a distinct performance advantage.

The wireless link has been designed to operate solely within the parameter of the sailboat. Due to regulations and the short operating range, it is not possible to send data from off the boat to the sunglass receivers. ORACLE BMW Racing sponsors, TAG HEUER has provided TAG Sport Vision sunglasses that BMW has modified to incorporate into the system.

The BMW Technology Office in Palo Alto has worked closely with ORACLE BMW Racing, testing the system during tuning and practice races. Robert Passaro (30) is the project leader in the technology co-operation between BMW and ORACLE BMW Racing. The BMW Miniature Head-Up Display System is another example of BMW technology support which also includes fatigue analysis of hull components as well asload measurements of rigging components. The first functional prototype of the Miniature Head-Up Display concept was created by BMW’s John Ananny (30), member of the dedicated project team working in the BMW Technology Office in Palo Alto. Passaro and Anannny are also present in Auckland in order to implementand integratethe system on the racing boat.

“Our overall objective is to optimise the speed and performance of ORACLE BMW Racing‘s two sailboats. To that end, we think microdisplay technology is the perfect example of cross-pollination of technology from Formula 1 to America‘s Cup yachting - the Formula 1 of sailing,“ says Robert Passaro, BMW Technology Office USA.

“The BMW Miniature Head-Up Display System is a significant advance in the distribution of specific data to the individual sailors aboard ORACLE BMW Racing‘s sailboats. The BMW team seamlessly advanced the project from concept to a fully working system on the sailboats in less than three weeks. The BMW engineers have done a great job!“ acknowledges ORACLE BMW Racing sailing team member, Eric Doyle.

“BMW and ORACLE represent the pinnacle of modern high technology, the highest quality and the most innovative solutions. The BMW Miniature Head-Up Display System has brought the information technology of sailing further into the 21st Century. This innovation will assist our ORACLE BMW Racing team with its quest for the America’s Cup 2003,“ comments Peter Holmberg, member of the ORACLE BMW Racing Afterguard.

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