Toyota Drives Microsoft Windows 8 to Daytona, NASCAR
TRD officials said the Toyota racing subsidiary stays at the forefront of racing technology by working with Microsoft. “One of the biggest differentiators between TRD and our competition is that we have invested heavily in Windows software,” said Steve Wickham, vice president of chassis operations at TRD, in a statement. “Recently, however, we’ve been getting pressure from teams to improve communications and to introduce a more mobile computing platform that can be used trackside.” “For Toyota teams to finish first on the track, we must also be the first to innovate our technologies behind the scenes,” said Darren Jones, group lead for software development at TRD, in a statement. “We chose Windows 8 because we get enterprise-ready security and management, the familiarity of the Windows development environment, and a fully capable touch-enabled interface.” TRD provided teams with applications that run on laptops, but the drivers found them difficult to use. “I’ve just come off a 175-mile-an-hour run. I’m strapped in, my adrenalin is pumping, and the car is being jacked up and down,” said Kenny Wallace, who drives the #99 Toyota Camry for RAB Racing with Brack Maggard. “I can’t be fumbling with a mouse and keyboard to tell my crew chief that we have to figure out why I’m losing a couple hundredths of a second in the third corner.” Microsoft’s Visser explains why TRD moved to Windows 8. “TRD most recently had a Windows 7 version of the app called TRD Race Strategy,” he said. “It was a timing and scoring-based app that TRD used during practice runs to compare lap times. The app worked great on laptops, and stationary monitors, but it wasn’t touch-enabled and had to be used with a mouse and keyboard, making it difficult for drivers to access information while sitting in the car. TRD needed something more mobile for the track environment that could improve communication between the driver and crew.”“Throughout the 2013-2014 race seasons, TRD will expand its support capabilities to roll out the app on Windows 8 to remaining teams across all three national touring NASCAR series,” Visser said.
Visser said Windows 8 filled that mobility void with a small and convenient touch tablet that the driver can easily use while sitting in the car and then hand to the crew chief, without any data getting lost in translation. To design the Trackside app for Windows 8, TRD was able to repurpose its original code from the Windows 7 Race Strategy app, and re-skinned it with a Windows 8 user interface to deliver its mobile touch based experience, he added. Moreover, the ability to reuse code saved TRD significant time in development and testing.