Angus, of Island Broadcasting Media Limited, is VLR’s Chief Software Architect. He was formerly CTA at Inspired Gaming where he oversaw their growth following the acquisition of Red Vision to become the leading developer of online virtual racing products. In this Q&A he shares his expertise on the hottest topics for VLR and the virtual sector.
Q1: You have a long career in software development having worked with Inspired Gaming and Red Vision. What attracted you to working with VLR?
Angus: VLR cracked the USA market thanks to ingenious product design and development, but what really attracted me was the chance to apply a lot of esoteric technology to virtual races. For example, we’re working on real-time 3D pose estimation for quadrupeds like racehorses both to understand the biomechanics better and also to create a more pleasant-to-view experience by accurately simulating the real world.
Q2. What makes VLR’s technical proposition different from other market suppliers?
Angus: There is a lot of unique proprietary mathematics and coding that allows us to both run an exciting race and also comply with the regulatory framework we operate under. VLR has used that and other technical innovations to create an entirely new product category built on a tote betting infrastructure which powers a market worth $11billion in the USA, and $100billion globally.
Q3. What is VLR’s road map for rolling out new products?
Angus: The next major milestone will be when we have 12 products up, and when that is achieved it will mean that we’re able to run 87,600 races a year. Beyond that the goal is to get wagering up to $3,500 per race, and if we succeed then over $306million will be handled in wagers on our products in a full year.
Q4: Technology is driving virtualisation of real horse racing events, what leaps in technology could we see in the next five years?
Angus: We have a weather eye out for developments in the AI and VFX worlds, for example HDRI relighting of scenes, and my personal favourite which is the development of artificial voices to be used in commentary. Exciting innovations in things like GPU computing and our own Studio 1 technology is going to result, quite soon, in commentary that will bring even more realism to our products.
Q5: Crypto currency and the crypto ledger are starting to witness game development on those technologies, do we see virtual products using these platforms?
Angus: We stage events, other people take bets on those events. Cryptocurrencies/tokens are less interesting to us than the underlying technology of blockchain. We’re aware of the fact that in some less-well-regulated territories there may be a ‘trust gap’ between bettor and bookie, and blockchain technology can certainly help in that area.
Q6: What advice would you give to software engineers looking to start a career in virtual digital development and design?
Angus: Many creative expressions come together to make an enjoyable virtual event, so there are many skills required, and therefore several pathways for software engineers looking for a career in this sector. For example, we employ people from all walks of life, from drone pilots doing photogrammetry, through to animators carefully mimicking movement, and C++ programmers calculating vector offsets as the event progresses. Being constantly alert to current trends and innovations in games, film, and music technology means that we gave the agility to quickly identify and adopt disparate technologies and methods.
Q7: Anything else you would like to share with the readers?
Angus: Since members of our team developed the original virtual gaming products two decades ago we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the range and quality of what is available. It’s quite clear that the many advantages of an almost infinite reservoir of races and events, combined with the inherent fairness of the systems, is very attractive. With the unique addition of parimutuel betting using anonymised past performance race data in a regulated product, VLR Is breaking new ground and offering new opportunities for operators and the betting community. Our new features in development will only enhance this.