NZ technology brings 3D view of America’s Cup to the world

New Zealand-developed technology will bring a Web-based 3D view of the America's Cup challenger series to the world's media. Auckland's Terabyte Interactive will provide services to the media centre for the Louis Vuitton series for the America's Cup - and a spin-off business called Virtual Spectator.

Cutting-edge New Zealand-developed technology will bring a Web-based 3D view of the America’s Cup challenger series to the world’s media and showcase Kiwi IT expertise to the world.

Auckland-based Terabyte Interactive has been chosen to provide services to the media centre for the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Series for the America’s Cup. A spin-off business out of Terabyte, Virtual Spectator (VSL), has been set up to create new Internet-based products. Its first product will be a virtual stadium concept for the media centre.

Meek says the virtual stadium is used as an analogy to best illustrate a complex delivery process using computers. The aim is to give the media a virtual view of the event, using a specially designed browser to handle 3D animation. “Rather than saying we’re going to set up a server farm of computers, which looks very elaborate, we’ve created a virtual sports stadium where the yachts are here [in the middle of the stadium] and the media are up here [in the grandstand].”

VSL will use a “CD-hybrid” product with high-bandwidth content (high-spec images and maps and graphics of New Zealand) on a CD-ROM which is sent to media around the world. Low-bandwidth live information will be accessed off the Web site.

Terabyte Interactive managing director Craig Meek says VSL has been the vision of two companies — Terabyte and Animation Research (ARL) in Dunedin. There are also people involved in a venture capital capacity.

ARL, which provided animation for TVNZ during the 1995 America’s Cup, and Terabyte have been working together for some time to find ways to make animations play back well over the Net.

“It’s been a tricky exercise in understanding the limitations of the information superhighway. A major restriction has been bandwidth and modem speeds.”

Meek says high-end solutions can solve bandwidth problems, but different delivery platforms are needed for the mass market.

Terabyte was involved with the America’s Cup in 1995, but it was as a production house, digitising all the media content.

This time, new ways of packaging digital media and providing it in an easy format for the media will be explored. The media will be able to indicate what boats they are most interested in, for example, and be sent tailored information (such as weather or wind information) at specified times.

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