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Bringing the F1 to the digital audience

With Singapore's Formula One race approaching, various industry bodies in the country have been using technology to bring the experience out of the track for visitors.

For spectators who won't get to watch Singapore's first Formula One (F1) race in person, several of the country's commercial and government bodies are making sure they don't feel left out of the action.

The Science Centre Singapore has put up a temporary showcase entitled "The Science of F1". The three-part exhibition shows the background and history of the sport, the science behind F1, and one centered on the country's night race, which comes with simulators for visitors to get in on the action.

And it won't just be all about the drivers. According to the government-funded Science Centre's Web site, there is an area set up like an F1 pit stop, where visitors can team up to take part in the typical activities that go on during a race's pit stop.

Another government body, the Singapore Tourism Board, has also reached out online to entice tourists to visit the island with an online game. The 3D flash application lets visitors run through a simulated race, and labels the country's prominent landmarks in-game so virtual racers know what portions of the urban landscape are whizzing by.

Title sponsor, SingTel, has also explored the immersive experience an interactive Web site brings.

Besides the telco's official F1 site, SingTel has also launched a Microsoft Silverlight-enabled site focusing on an aspect of the race outside of the cars themselves--the ladies who will accompany each car come race day.

The site on the 'Grid Girls' attempts to engage viewers with a patchwork of high-quality videos and photos. An onsite compatibility quiz lends verisimilitude to the experience of interacting with the Girls.

In order to optimize this site for most visitors, the site is touted to offer the high-resolution images while being light on users' systems, according to Haresh Khoobchandani, director of business and marketing organization, Microsoft Singapore.

Khoobchandani told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail, the Silverlight Web framework allows the use of audio and video elements in a site for a richer experience, but does not require "huge file downloads".

And the site is attracting the attention SingTel hoped for, according to a SingTel spokesperson. Some 40,000 visitors each day go to the site, with this number expected to double to 80,000, she said.

SingTel too touted the merits of the Silverlight platform: "We could have all this extra content and high resolution visuals without having to increase bandwidth resources."

"The compatibility tests have been extremely popular," the spokesperson confirmed, adding that it has helped to "bring out the unique personalities of the Grid Girls".