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Grand National app shows future of augmented reality betting

BETFAIR is working on a new mobile phone app that will automatically identify horses and riders as well as giving real-time odds.

The app, which is still in development but has been unveiled to tie in with tomorrow’s Grand National, would link GPS data with images from a mobile phones camera and picture recognition.

Once the horse is identified, the app augments the moving images with odds, form, star-rating and other relevant information.

Last week, Google unveiled its ‘Project Glass’, a wearable camera which augments real life with location based information. Betfair said that a working prototype of its app “is some way off, but it shows you what our research teams are currently exploring". Analysts said Google’s project was also unlikely to appear for several years.

Augmented reality is already used in entertainment, military training, engineering design, robotics, manufacturing and other industries, and it has recently been implemented in apps such as Aurasma using the camera technology on smart phones.

The gambling exchange said its app, which it describes as a ‘live research project’ aimed at racegoers, would be able to send an image from a phone back to a data source, which would use GPS positioning along with visual keywords andnumbers to send the Betfair market and form onto the phone screen.

Although Betfair is increasing its intvestment in technology, it has previously encountered problems with its system to match bets with users offering odds. In December last year, it it voided in-running bets on the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown following the discovery of what it termed “an obvious technical fault”.

With one of their customers facing a payout of £23 million, the company apologised after angry complaints were lodged on its website forum. Between 150 and 250 Betfair customers were affected after one account “went crazy,” offering generous odds about a winner even when, to most experienced race-readers, she looked certain to collect. The punter concerned did not have the funds to cover the liabilities after offering odds of 28-1 on the winner of the race, Voler La Vedette. No foul play was suspected.

Richard Hewitt, Betfair’s Head of Mobile Product said, “Augmented Reality might have been just another futuristic concept in Minority Report, but this technology is slowly becoming more mainstream and is being used in a variety of creative ways. Betting through mobiles is already incredibly popular and this concept would allow Betfair to go one step further, providing markets and form to help our customers”.