Tobii eye tracking technology in front of gaming monitor

Immersive tech to help improve F1 sim racing performance

Image credit: Tobii

The Alpine Esports team has unveiled an array of new partners in the tech world as part of its goal to improve its competitive performance in the 2023 F1 Esports Series.

The series of announcements were revealed at the Alpine Esports Sim Racing Expo at its F1 factory in Oxfordshire, attended by E&T. It showcased each product, discussed the state of the sim racing industry, which is forecast to be worth over $13bn by 2026, and outlined Alpine Esports’ ambitions for 2023 and beyond.

“Sim racing is an important part of Alpine’s DNA,” Guillaume Vergnas, head of Esports, Gaming & Web3 at Alpine, said during the expo. “We see the crossover between real-world racing and sim racing continue to blur where it can support how we conduct testing of our cars, providing us with realistic data.”

Vergnas added that the immersive technology could also allow the team to better engage with new audiences. “Our line-up of partners allows us to support our competitive ambitions for our F1 Esports team and Le Mans Virtual Series Team, engage with fans in completely new ways, and support our Business Unit.”

Livery of Alpine's Esports car

Alpine Esports’ car livery was designed by the F1 graphic design team

Image credit: Alpine Esports

Among its new partners is virtual- and extended-reality (VR/XR) company Varjo, which is now the Esports team’s official VR partner.

The company, an already active member of the sim racing community, has developed a series of functions with drivers in mind. Its Varjo Aero headsets boast edge-to-edge visibility, advanced ergonomics, integrated eye-tracking, a built-in cooling system and help to reduce the effects of motion sickness, according to the manufacturer.

Meanwhile, the Finnish company’s XR-3 headset is the first and only headset of its kind to be created with human eye resolution immersing professionals in a highly realistic mixed-reality driving experience, the firm added.

Varjo headset in front of monitor for sim racing

Image credit: Varjo

“Together, Varjo and Alpine can immerse drivers in the heart of the action and push the limits of what’s possible in VR/XR Esports,” said Rune Huse Karlstad, head of racing simulation at Varjo. “We can’t wait to see what kind of pioneering experiences we can create together, and we look forward to driving the future of virtual racing together with Alpine Esports.”

The XR technology will be used for the wider Alpine Business Unit while the Varjo Aero headsets will offer immersive experiences to fans and drivers.

Varjo will supply Alpine Esports with Varjo Aero VR headsets to be used at events and in the new Alpine Esports Content Room, a new facility built within the walls of the F1 factory with over £50,000 worth of equipment to support immersive content and livestreams. 

Content room at Alpine's F1 factory in Oxfordshire

Image credit: Alpine Esports

Alpine Esports has also signed on Swedish company Tobii, which develops eye-tracking and attention computing technologies, to bring its Tobii Eye Tracker 5 to the F1 Esports team.

By using machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced signal processing to decode head and eye movements and translate microscopic gestures into accurate gaze signals, Tobii generates insights to reveal what captures a person’s attention and interprets intent.

According to Alpine, the technology will support drivers in improving their attention and focus while racing – a vital skill for endurance racers. It will also supply the Tobii Eye Tracker 5 software to the Alpine Esports Content Room, alongside Alpine Esports ambassadors and drivers.

Tobii eye tracking technology in front of monitor

Image credit: Tobii

“At Tobii, we’re always looking for partners as excited as us about using innovative head- and eye-tracking technology to improve their offerings,” said Ulrica Wikström, vice president of PC at Tobii. “Alpine Esports’ investment in sim racing and their belief in using data and statistics to improve their driver’s performance makes them a perfect partner for us. Together we are looking to unlock the power of attention-based insights.”

French-Canadian gaming company The Tiny Digital Factory – which specialises in motorsport mobile games, joined the blockchain market in 2020 and developed new Web3 gaming experiences – also joins Alpine Esports as its official mobile racing game partner.

Close-up of F1 game on phone

Image credit: The Tiny Digital Factory

The two-year partnership between Alpine and the Tiny Digital Factory aims to embrace the accessibility of mobile gaming, breaking down the barriers to entry to sim racing. The partnership also helps to take the team’s fan engagement initiatives “a step further”.

At the expo, Vergnas stressed the team’s excitement about taking on tech partners within the Esports world. “We’re thrilled to work with Varjo, Tobii and The Tiny Digital Factory, who also see the potential of sim racing and whose products are a natural fit for our needs.”

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