Monday, July 13, 2009

Red Bull X-Alps Technology

As well as incredible feats of endurance and adventure, the Red Bull X-Alps is well known for using advanced and reliable technology to monitor the athletes and keep the race’s followers up to date.
The unique 818 Km adventure race requires 30 participants from 23 different nations to paraglide or hike from Salzburg in Austria to Monaco via a series of turnpoints in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France. Every movement made by the athletes is broadcast to the world via a Live Tracking map, hosted on the official website and Google Earth. As in previous Red Bull X-Alps, viewers will be able to pinpoint an athlete’s location on an interactive Live Tracking map - updated every minute - and see if they’re paragliding, hiking or resting.
For 2009, there will be a number of interactive features including pop-ups with the athletes’ latest diary entries and statistics showing how far a participant has flown or hiked over the past 24 hours. Additionally Google Earth will show tracks in 3D with markers defining the daily progress of each athlete.
Live Tracking is made possible by Red Bull MOBILE cell phones in combination with Bräuniger Compeo+ flight instruments. GPS data is collected and processed by the Bräuniger instruments’ firmware into a compressed binary format and transferred via Bluetooth to specially adapted Red Bull MOBILE Sony Ericsson C702 phones. This information is sent via automatically generated SMS messages to the server, which then reinterprets and uploads the data immediately to the Live Tracking map and Google Earth.
This technology is used by the race organisation to keep a close eye on the athletes. Race director Steve Cox checks that all Red Bull X-Alps rules are adhered too, making sure that all turnpoints are passed properly and that restricted airspaces are not breached. "Live Tracking is important for us to look out for the athletes, and also for the fans to follow what’s going on", says Cox. "It’s fascinating to watch the race develop and dissect the athletes’ tactics and progress".
All athletes must make daily updates to their personal internet diaries on To make these updates they will use the Red Bull MOBILE Sony Ericsson C702 phone to send images, videos, text and voice messages via MMS. Athletes must also make weekly diary entries leading up to the race via All teams are must submit video footage (minimum 10 minutes per day) to the communications crew every 48 hours. Teams will be subjected to 12 hours penalty time for each failure to comply with this rule. The communication equipment (video cameras and tapes) will be supplied by the Race Organisation. The assistant is obliged to deliver all video footage to the defined meeting points or directly to the Red Bull X-Alps communication crew.
Additionally, the athletes will be issued with a Suunto Core outdoor watch, which will help them meet the extreme challenges that await them. The Core’s altitude, barometer and compass functions will be invaluable tools as the racers navigate their way through the Alps during the two-week long event.