Ascot racecourse, Britain's oldest horse racing venue, sees itself as a template for a smart city the company's CTO has told Pocket-lint during an interview for the Pocket-lint podcast.

"When you look at sports stadiums like football, rugby, or cricket, for the majority of the time you will be in a single seat. You won't be that mobile," explains George Vaughan, the racecourse CTO. "We are very different and think that we fit into a template for a smart city more than any other sports venue."

The racecourse, which hosts the 5-day annual Royal Ascot meet in June every year, sees up to 80,000 people a day visit the sprawling site and exploring the many bars, restaurants and levels the stadium has to offer and has already embraced ticketless entry and contactless payments for drinks, food, and even betting. 

Vaughan's comparison to a smart city is because of the way attendees move around the site so freely:

"We know that people will choose to explore the breadth of the site and choose to watch each race in different locations. They may not even watch the race at the track but watch it from a screen in one of our restaurants or bars."

Monitoring air quality and traffic flow

It is something Vaughan, and his team are keen to explore and understand more.

The racecourse is in the process of installing sensors in the 250+ hospitality boxes to measure things like air quality control and noise, among an array of different measurements, as well as looking at ways of monitoring the flow of people traffic.

Vaughan and his team are also looking at ways of helping people navigate from area to area without covering the site in "more screens".

"That's one of the big appeals of Ascot for me, especially Royal Ascot, I see it as a lifestyle event as I do a sports event. So, in terms of technology, the racing can be almost an aside to what is happening."

Augmented Reality signposts

Vaughan admits the company is experimenting with augmented reality either in a fun way to allow people to have a selfie with a famous star or jockey, but also to help people get around the racecourse venue.

"We don't want to plaster the venue in screens, but there is nothing stopping up from allowing people to hold their devices up to special totems around the site that would direct them to where they want to go. You could easily achieve that with augmented reality."

Other ideas for AR include people at the track being able to watch classic races by holding up their phones as if they were there or see the venue as it was through the ages to enjoy the different fashions, or even scenes from famous movies filmed at Ascot, like My Fair Lady or James Bond in A View To A Kill.

"The business is committed to putting technology at the heart of our plan for the future strategy going forward," Vaughan tells us, and with so many possibilities ahead we are sure he is.

You can listen to the full interview with George Vaughan in the latest episode (ep.13) of the Pocket-lint podcast out on Friday 2 August.