Why McLaren is putting the Internet of Things in pole position

When McLaren opened its new headquarters in 2004, it also formed McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT) to take its high-speed, telemetry-led solutions into other sectors - from health and defence to transport, medical care and other sports.

Health has proved a particular focus for the division, which teamed up with the GP Surgery StowHealth and University Campus Suffolk to carry out a one year study using its LifeInsight technology.

The study involved using a cardiac implant sensor to monitor heart rate variability throughout the day. In a similar manner to how garages measure the "health" of F1 cars, it provided data to clinicians and trainers allowing them to measure calorie burn and promote behavioural change. MAT has also applied the technology in Birmingham's Children's Hospital where it has been used to detect deterioration in critically ill children.

Designing the chipset for this created a specific set of challenges, according to Freescale's Highton. "That study had a specific spec that we had to work to," he says. "It was important that there was obviously zero defect quality as it's part of cardiac treatment, and it was optimised for low current drain to give it the longest battery life as possible."

Restoring sight

Freescale has also been involved in the development of Orcam, a camera that attaches to a glass frame and can translate written text into an earpiece to tell the wearer what they're looking at. The device is powered by Freescale's i.MX 6Quad applications processor that integrates four ARM Cortex A9 cores, allowing it to handle however much text is thrown its way.

Seeing is believing

In the line of sight

Though impressive, Highton says that the device hasn't even scratched the surface of possibilities.

"We're finding that the market is evolving incredibly quickly and we're having to provide more and more functionality," he says. "With OrCam, there's more and more analysis that could be done - it was initially just text, and now the latest version can detect shapes, and there are many more things that could be immediately spoken to the wearer."

It's clear that McLaren is only scratching the surface of possibilities with its telemetry-driven IoT solutions, but whether it's on the racecourse, in a road car or measuring heart rate activity, its initiatives show that it's in pole position to drive forward innovation.

Kane Fulton
Kane has been fascinated by the endless possibilities of computers since first getting his hands on an Amiga 500+ back in 1991. These days he mostly lives in realm of VR, where he's working his way into the world Paddleball rankings in Rec Room.