TCS is turning the TCS New York City Marathon into the world’s most technically advanced race
Runners, friends, family, and fitness enthusiasts who attended the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon Expo received a pleasant surprise at the TCS booth. There, a bubbly robot greeted them, danced and shared information about the popular TCS New York City Marathon app. On race day, the robot greeted runners at the TCS hospitality area, and with a quick scan of their race bib, it flashed the runners’ finish time on its built-in display. Delighted marathoners played along as the robot engaged and danced with them, and posed for a robo-selfie.
The robot was just one of the many technological innovations undertaken by TCS at the recently concluded TCS New York City Marathon to enhance the runner and spectator experience. As title sponsor of the Marathon since 2014, TCS has worked with non-profit New York Road Runners (NYRR) to make this marathon the most technologically advanced race in the world.
A custom-built chatbot called Pacey Miles used a wide-screen interface to inform and entertain audiences in the run-up to the race day. The bot answered frequently asked audience questions about the race. It was pre-programmed with 27 different question variations, and the chatbot could address event specific questions and also crack a few running-related jokes.
Of Robots and Chatbots
Both these artificial intelligence- and robotics-led innovations were meant to drive audience engagement with the TCS-powered official app for the marathon. With a record 334,000 downloads, the TCS New York City Marathon app continues to be a major resource to runners and spectators.
With approximately 50,000 runners and more than 1.5 million spectators, the TCS New York City Marathon draws in a huge number of people to the city each year. Here’s where tech support turns critical – from detailed course maps to real-time runner tracking, the innovative app has everything covered. Using this application, people can track up to 20 different runners at any time, and even get their exact locations on the course map.
This facilitated some sweet encounters – the mother of a TCSer running the marathon surprised her daughter at a water station along the route! One feature helped spectators create cheer cards for their favorite runners, while another helped them read up about professional athletes participating at the event.
Running for the Community
It is not just the tech sphere where TCS’ intervention has created an impact. As premier partner of the marathon, TCS has supported NYRR in its community and youth initiatives. TCS support fuels Rising New York Road Runners, a comprehensive youth fitness program offered free of cost to schools, community centers and other participants, with more than 215,000 children reached nationwide every year. About a thousand of the participants from this youth program also get to race in Central Park in NYC a day before the marathon.
TCS also organizes sessions of its flagship STEM education program, goIT, prior to the TCS New York City Marathon. This year, 11 schools participated in a specifically designed goIT fitness app competition, with the top four schools competing in a finale before ‘Race Sunday’ and the winning team got to hold an official race tape and be part of the award ceremonies.