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Goodwood works with UNIT9 to create AR-enhanced Lotus Aeroad Central Feature at Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Goodwood Festival of Speed’s famous Central Feature was enjoyed by both in-person visitors and virtual viewers for the first time ever this year. Working closely with the team at Goodwood, innovation studio UNIT9 turned the installation into a smartphone-friendly hybrid experience with an augmented reality (AR) twist.

The Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard is a long-standing event celebrating the evolution of motoring and motorsport from the past and the present – and Goodwood continues to embrace the latest and greatest innovations. A Central Feature enhanced with AR was the latest logical step in keeping the event and the venue at the cutting edge of futuristic technologies, ensuring that every visitor – whether in person or virtual – has the best possible experience.

The festival’s impressive annual Central Feature sculptures traditionally celebrate a major automotive marque or manufacturer through art. This year’s partner was iconic British sports car company Lotus Cars, and the sculpture, measuring 50 metres in length and 22 metres in height, was part of the launch of its new Emira model.

After downloading the Lotus Aeroad iOS or Android app, in-person attendees used AR to transform the sculpture into a dramatically curved racetrack that brought the Lotus Elise, Exige, Evora and, most excitingly, the brand-new Lotus Emira to life. At-home digital viewers were able to view the entire structure in AR, scaling it to fit their environment wherever they were in the world and watching the cars zoom around the track.

Representing the festival’s progressive nature, 2021 marks the first time since 1997 that the Central Feature has been designed by a new team.

Commenting on this change in design team, the , said: “With UNIT9’s assistance, we transformed the Central Feature into a future-facing experience that connects with visitors and remote viewers on a deeper level.  Augmented reality is an established and proven technology and the Lotus Aeroad demonstrates that Goodwood is an innovator in visitor experience, always giving people something new, but at the same time keeping it accessible.”

Kate Lynham, Creative Director at UNIT9, added: “As someone who trained as an architect, seeing this project come to life has been a dream come true. I never thought I would have the opportunity to be a part of creating something this monumental, something built of this scale and ambition. It represents everything I love about my job, the ability to bring the latest AR technology to an architectural sculpture.”

Simon Clare, Executive Director, Global Marketing, Lotus, commented: “A maverick approach has been part of the Lotus DNA since 1948, and all parties were driven to harness that pioneering spirit to create something new and exciting for the Central Feature. It had to be relevant to Lotus and a stunning piece of art, plus we wanted it to be interactive for Festival visitors and those who could only attend the event digitally. The final execution, the Lotus Aeroad, hit the brief perfectly and we’re very grateful to UNIT9 for its support in bringing this vision to life.”

Members of the crowd were also impressed by the sculpture, with James Newberry commenting: “It’s great to see a well-known venue like Goodwood embracing AR. I’ve been coming to the Festival of Speed since I was really young and this year’s Central Feature is really fresh and different.”

Sharon Davies, who was watching from home, said: “I was so sad not to be able to join the fun in-person this year, but adding a virtual element made me feel like I wasn’t missing out. It was really cool to see the sculpture in my own home!”

Hitesh Patel also added: “It was great to be back at a real-life event. I look forward to the Festival of Speed and loved the modern take on this year’s Central Feature. Seeing it come to life through my screen was a totally new experience.”

The Lotus Aeroad app is available to download here.