Cloud Syncing - So What? It's a BIG DEAL - That's What!
A few months ago, when we decided to go down the path of the new Track Attack, we knew giving drivers and teams the ability to take in data from any data system and storing all of that data (and video) to the cloud was absolutely needed.
While it may not be ‘super sexy’ - being able to cloud store data is the foundation that powers a bunch of awesome short and long term experiences we have in mind.
So why is the cloud so important? Here are the top 5 reasons the cloud is a big deal:
1. Ease of Mind
As we spent time with people at the race tracks, we observed how people were saving their data - in a trusty but sometimes old computer. In many cases, we saw laptops running Windows 8, which means they are up to 5 years old. Not the worst thing but getting closer and closer to a random incident of a hard drive crashing. When that hard drive goes, all that data is gone. We also heard that this trusty laptop was one that was primarily used just for race data and analysis, which meant it lived with or near the car. We heard countless stories of being at work or at the hotel at night from the track, wanting to look at the data but it was in “the computer”, at the track and they forgot to grab the files on a USB stick.
Having the data (and video) stored to a user and/or team’s profile, as the actual data - not just simply saving the file to a cloud storage, of which anyone can do today, with a DropBox or OneDrive - lets drivers and teams be able to access their data, anywhere, on any device, any time and with the same experience.
More and more drivers are realizing the importance of data collection and sharing/comparing data with other drivers, to figure out different ways of driving and ultimately getting faster. If being able to have access to your own data whenever you need it was hard enough, doing the same with other people has been exponentially hard. We talked with one team where they use a central computer to gather all the data across the drivers and teams, so they can easily compare with each other on the track but more often than not, there wasn’t enough time to grab a copy of the data to take home.
We even observed that in this team’s case, when they had all the data from each driver on a single laptop and even when all drivers were using the same data logging systems (AiM MXL 2’s), set up by the same team - they still had to do work to make sure the sessions were comparable!
Having the data on the cloud, not simply as saved session files but truly taking the data and mapping it to our standardized format, allows the data to be automatically compatible with any other session, regardless of data format as well. Couple this with the ability to hit ‘share’ just like a Google Doc or Facebook post and sharing it with other drivers and teams, means that overlaying your data with another driver(s) is easier than ever. Now all you have to do is figure out where to get that data (but we’re looking to help there too!).
3. Understand Yourself and Your Car
There’s a number of ways to think about driver development - lap times, consistency, seat time, average speeds, etc. but aside from having a manual look at these things or calculating them offline in some Excel spreadsheet, it’s really difficult to know how you’re tracking. For example, there is the infamous saying from Malcolm Gladwell that to be world-class at something, you need to spend 10,000 hours doing/practicing that thing. We know that is not the only marker for success but it’s a good guideline - to be a world class driver, as an example, you need lots and lots of quality practice (Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect) but how do you know where you are on that metric?
By having the data on the cloud, we can calculate those metrics automatically. How many hours of seat time do you have? How many laps have you driven? Overall and at specific tracks? In specific kinds of cars? How many hours have you spent actually racing? How many passes have you made? How many times have you been passed? What are all of these things for your car?
What is your logbook as a driver? By having the data on the cloud, we can automatically tell you so that you know and can share that with sponsors, teams, coaches and other drivers. What is this logbook for your car? You might have a logbook for your racecar but aside from events, what is it really telling you?
4. Understand How You Stack Up
Now you know more about who you are as a driver, with hard data. You can see how you’ve been progressing, where you’ve hit plateaus and smashed through them. But how do you stack up? Compared to others you drive with at track days, at races or even worldwide? How does your development stack up? How have others developed over time? Who has developed at a rate or trajectory that you aspire towards?
Having the data for you as an individual means we can also show you how you stack up to other drivers like you or those you want to be. This isn’t necessarily about turning everything into a competition (though many of our users are keen on that :) ) but rather simply giving you a frame of context. Just like when you’re going on a road trip - getting to the destination as fast as possible might not be the goal but at least knowing where you are on the map is helpful.
5. Connect with Others
Finally, you know more about yourself and how you stack up and you found people that are farther along the journey you are on or want to be on - what now? You guessed it! This is where we are going to have several leaderboards and not just on lap times, where you’ll be able to able to discover other drivers and teams and be able to follow them, reach out to them and at some point, even request access to their data. This is going to be a community of motorsport nuts, coming together and getting better - based on real data and video, not simply internet keyboard chatter.
All of these things are only possible when driving data in the cloud and not just simply having the files saved, like anyone can with a DropBox but truly saving the data values themselves, in a standardized format.
We’ve built most of the foundation and have already finished cloud synchronization. We are just finishing up the last bits for an initial version of teams and sharing - a focus on that next week. We’ve started building the stats service to calculate the user, vehicle and team stats. In the next week or so, we’ll be demo’ing an alpha of driver and team profile pages that show these stats.
We’re super excited about building this, getting it out and getting your feedback. If this sounds awesome to you, share this blog post and IndieGogo update with your friends!