This years Australia F1 Grand Prix introduced Australia to a new technology called Kangaroo TV that is set to change the way spectators view live sporting events in the future. Kangaroo TV is a system that employs both mobile media devices and broadcast technology to deliver TV directly to the palms of viewers hands.
The Kangaroo TV device that spectators use to watch an event is a rubber-clad TV which is operated via an integrated five way control pad. The control pad and an additional four shortcut keys provide easy access to common functions. When setup for the Grand Prix the shortcuts allow easy flicking between on-board cameras and the main race feed, but in other sports like Golf or NFL they can be configured for different functions.
Kangaroo TV runs on the on the UHF band and video is encoded in MPEG4 format. The device weighs 400g and comes with two Lithium Ion batteries which provide up to six hours continuous usage.
At this years Melbourne Grand Prix, Kangaroo TV provided spectators with access to the international F1 broadcast (as seen on TV), in-car cameras, local and international commentary, official race timing, scoring, leader-boards and real-time stats. Because the unit is dummy-proof, it has appeal to all race goers who want a better view of on-track activity.
I tested the Kangaroo TV at this years race and was impressed with the reception quality and the way that it improved my understanding of the race. While the super-screens around the track display the main race feed, having the ability to change channels, listen to alternate commentary and watch live-timing right in the palm of your hands is something that feels like it's from the future.
Kangaroo TV was developed in conjunction with the Champ Car World Series in 2002, and has since expanded its repertoire to include NASCAR Sprint Cup series, NFL Sunday Ticket and now Formula One. A six-year agreement will see Kangaroo TV coming back to Australia for next years Grand Prix, and possibly for the V8 series as well.