VCOM is a software based full conferencing and non-blocking matrix communications system that operates using standard computer and IP network hardware instead of the much more expensive proprietary hardware systems. It is self-contained and fully compatible with external systems such as SIP and analog telephone systems, digital and analog audio systems and control stations manufactured by a variety of companies. VCOM brings a much more cost-effective approach to professional level communications systems while continuing to provide all the expected functionality and in addition all digital IP infrastructure including inherent seamless integration with telephony systems and popular mobile smartphones and tablets.
VCOM™ is an IP-software multi-channel / multi-access communications and tactical conferencing solution for professional and mission critical applications. The solution is highly scalable to thousands of users, supports virtually an unlimited number of channels and conferences, boasts LDAP integration, SNMP traps, AES encryption, point-to-point QoS, CDR, video monitoring, and incorporates geo-positioning technology. VCOM consists of the following core components:
- VCOM Virtual Matrix / Server: multi-threaded, server-side summing/mixing engine with integrated SIP support;
- VCOM User Interface: client-side GUI for non-blocking, multi-channel, multi-access critical communications;
- VCOM Device Interface: software interface to easily bridge disparate communication systems including hardware intercoms, two-way radios, and public/private telephone networks;
- System Administration Application: administrative user control for dynamic configuration and monitoring of VCOM from any workstation on the network.
Auto Racing Applications
There are two applications for VCOM in auto racing, one at the team level and one at the governing body level. Both are quite similar but somewhat different in the application and individual features. The differences at the system level are only a matter of programming and user station choices.
Within a racing team there is a great deal internal communications required for general administration and race control. Tight coordination between personnel located in the pit area, the race control office, maintenance shop, and team offices including home city location, and of course the driver. This is currently done with a combination of telephones, walkie-talkies, and cell phones, and private radio links for the driver. There is also often need for rapid accessibility to home location personnel and workshop. This is currently done with a combination of telephones, walkie-talkies, and cell phones.
By using VCOM all of these capabilities can be seamlessly integrated into one overall system also allowing full duplex intercom which eliminates the need for push to talk operation for operators who have their hands busy doing other things! Push to talk is always available where privacy is necessary. In addition to integrating all aspects of internal communications outside communications with the public telephone network and audio feeds to the press and is also as easy as programming the VCOM system. The unique ability of VCOM to integrate all of the existing systems simplifies operator control hardware, instead of multiple devices all controls and audio are easily handled on one device including push to talk walkie-talkie control. This capability can also be located anywhere one can obtain internet data, practically everywhere. Someone at home or in a hotel room can have full access on a smartphone or tablet. Personnel costs are lowered, fewer people can install, maintain, and operate one system compared to several.
A recent development now offers VCOM Virtual Reality which enables a 360-degree display of communications and audio control, telemetry data, realtime video, and external video/audio feeds as desired. A 360 view could easily be added via a 360 camera mounted in the car and using the existing wireless data channel that carries current in car cameras. This VR experience could be utilized with or without 3D goggles and possibly could provide a subscription service for serious race fans who could be “in the drivers seat” during a race. Additional video feeds could be integrated to show multiple images of the track and surroundings further enhancing the feeling of being at the race. Even some level of two-way team communications with team members could be included. The data that is acquired for VCOM use (360 video, background video/still images, background audio, car performance telemetry, and communications could also be provided to outside entities such as broadcasters and team oriented websites. All of this can be recorded for archival purposes and released for sale. Another possible use of the VR component data would be in support of video gaming. The data could be used to enhance realism of the gaming environment as well as market the team’s identity.
Governing Body Communications
Although for the most part the application is the same as for individual teams some key differences exist:
- There is additional need for press coverage and broadcast distribution.
- Instant access to safety agencies such as fire and police (both at the venue and in the surrounding area) authorities both at the race venue and the surrounding area is essential.
- Integration with venue activities, intercom systems, and public address systems.
- Race Control must be in constant contact with teams, safety authorities, venue administrators, pit area, box office, and spotter’s booths/towers.
- Integration and service to the press and broadcasters are critical for news media and television entities. Press feeds become an integral part of VCOM system programming and these signals can be obtained anywhere via IP data both locally and remotely. Video trucks can be fed over the data connection which they already have. Simple hardware interfaces (or in some cases all software ones already in place) are simply programmed with the proper signals. Suddenly added broadcasters are easily and quickly accommodated.
- Any number of separate press audio feeds can be supplied to any number of entities located locally or remotely, a most valuable tool for news events, especially when speed is important.
The new Virtual Reality capability offers additional opportunities for integration with the gaming industry for interactive race participation and marketing. A race fan could be at home with a far more realistic experience than simply being a 2 D television spectator. This could be sold on a race by race basis or by annual subscription.