Lamborghini Announces "Track and Play" For The End Of 2015: Video
They say life imitates art — and that’s often true. But as often as not, life in the world of the rich and famous seems to imitate fantasy. Most of us have played racing games of some sort, be it Gran Turismo, Forza or Ivan "Iron Man" Stewart’s Super Off-Road. As different as those may or may not be, they have all featured that ultimate in noob-saving devices: the real-time track map. Now, thanks to the power of money, Lamborghini can do the same.
All right, let’s not be too cynical about the "Automobili Lamborghini Track and Play." It is a super-cool accessory, and its technology isn’t that far removed from anything you might find in the typical iOS or Android cell phone. In fact, said cell phones actually play a role in the accessory package itself. How does it work? Keep reading to find out.
Continue reading for the full story.
How Does It Work?
It starts with a car-mounted control module, which talks to the computer and gathers information from the sensors on speed, throttle position, brake application, gear position and everything else you’d normally expect an aftermarket data-logger to record. It’s probably safe to assume this one doesn’t plug into the OBD-II data port; but apart from that, it works about the same as anything you might get from Racepak, DataQuest or even G-Tech.
It is a super-cool accessory, and its technology isn't that far removed from anything you might find in the typical iOS or Android cell phone. In fact, said cell phones actually play a role in the accessory package itself.
What isn’t the same is the way the Track and Play works with other things, notably GPS, and this week’s most awesome wonder-phone. Which you would have if you owned a Lamborghini.
The control module talks to the phone (here seen on a custom windshield mount) via a Lamborghini-specific app. The app allows the phone and control module to trade information about the car and its GPS coordinates. It can also serve as a display for downloadable track maps. These maps work just like you’d expect in any video game; they show static "ribbon" overviews of the track, and a little icon representing your Lamborghini and its position on the track. Presumably, the car’s own in-dash nav display could show the same thing, but a windshield-mounted Android phone would obviously go a long way toward keeping your eyes on the road.
It’ll do something else, too: serve as a digital video camera, recording your track exploits for posterity on YouTube. Again, that’s nothing you couldn’t do with any video phone or Go Pro, and plenty of people have.
But it’s the way that Lamborghini combines all of this into one hugely impressive readout and recording that makes the Track and Play what it is. It’s not just a data-logger, track map and video recorder — it’s all of them at the same time, and on the same screen, along with the "ghost time" from a virtual racing opponent. In other words, a fully live-action reproduction of every video game racing screen you’ve seen in the last 20 years. (Minus the actual transparent ghost car image on the windshield, but they’re probably working on that.)
But even comparing the Track and Play to a video game display probably isn’t doing it full credit. The Lambo system can display brake and throttle inputs, steering angle and G forces in every direction, while playing the video back and showing exactly where you were on the track. In effect, this system can record not only what happens, but why it happened. And for people whose street cars cost as much as many Formula One cars, that can be somewhat relevant information.
Personally, I miss the days when Italian sports cars were measured by the number of people they killed, not the number they saved. But, meh... time marches on.
Personally, I miss the days when Italian sports cars were measured by the number of people they killed, not the number they saved
The downside to all this goodness is that you do, in fact, have to buy a Lamborghini before you can get the Track and Play Accessory. It’s not going to plug into your ’98 Camaro SS, no matter how much electrical tape you use. Lamborghini hasn’t announced pricing on it yet, but being Lamborghini, expect Track and Play to cost a bit more than the aforementioned Camaro SS.
However, there is an up side here, for those of us forced to live in the real world. There’s no real reason why Racepak, G-Tech or anyone else couldn’t do something similar. Same for any other automobile manufacturer. If you’ve already got a GPS Nav system, you’re only a USB Go Pro camera and some software away from replicating Track and Play. And if you’ve got a smartphone, an app, and a Bluetooth connection a transmitter on the OBD-II port would work just as well. Cheap, too. It won’t be long before some savvy electronics manufacturer does exactly that.
So, Lamborghini probably won’t maintain its hold on this particular example of fantasy becoming reality for long. Good thing, too.
There’s no "reset" button on a real track, no matter what you drive.
Read our full review here.