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How our mobile app helped Land Rover BAR Team's America's Cup challenge

15 June 2017

New mobile app

BT developed a tactical app which acted as a virtual ‘seventh crew member’ to help Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR team gain a competitive edge in their bid to challenge for the America’s Cup. Over the past 12 months, the bespoke app has been designed and tested with the help of mobile app experts Coderus, a tech start-up based at BT’s innovation centre at Adastral Park.

BT, part of the Land Rover BAR Technical Innovation Group, committed to help the team after the number of crew members allowed on board the catamaran shrunk from eight to six after the 2015 America’s Cup. Meaning that helmsman Sir Ben Ainslie, and tactician Giles Scott, have more responsibilities and less time than ever before.

BT and Coderus needed to develop an app for use on mobile and wearable tech which could intuitively show critical information throughout the race, with no user interaction.

Keeping up with the pace

It was also essential that the software was well crafted so its operation kept pace with events as they unfolded, as well as being optimised for robust network, hardware and battery performance, given the length of time that the crew spend on the water.

The new app has been designed to provide critical data to the team about the strategic layout of the course, the position of the boat, how many legs of the race are left and how far it is to the next boundary, all allowing the team to make swift tactical decisions and giving them maximum time for manoeuvring.

The app can also tell the team exactly when to power up so that they cross the start line at the second the race begins, gaining a critical advantage from the very beginning by getting the team in front at Mark 1. The leader at this point is expected to win up to 80 per cent of the races for the America’s Cup.

The app was used in a competitive race for the first time on the 26 May as part of the America’s Cup Finals in Bermuda. During races the app runs on its own, with no connection back to shore.

Seventh team member

Sailing team tactician and Olympic gold medallist Giles Scott said: “We were desperate for an app which could act as a virtual seventh crew member and become central to our decision-making process during the race, providing Ben and I with the data that we really need to gain a competitive advantage. We’ve had great support from BT and Coderus through all stages of the development, from design, build and now refinement out on the water.”

Howard Watson, chief executive, BT Technology, Service and Operations, said: “We have teams across the globe dedicated to hunting the most talented user experience and software experts. We found that the very best expertise lay with Coderus in our start-up hub at Adastral Park, and we’re delighted to be supporting and working with such an innovative UK tech start-up.”

Bring it home

“It’s been fantastic for teams across the business to work together on this and showcase the very best of our innovation. We’re committed to helping Land Rover BAR not only bring the America’s Cup home, but also in helping them set the standard for sustainability in sport, through our technology and technical expertise in networking and engineering.”