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Fujitsu Tablet PCs and Microsoft OneNote at the Indy 500

Indy 500 Fujitsu Tablet PC
Engadget special correspondent Patrick Karle is at the Indianapolis 500 this week, where he filed this report on how one team there is using Tablet PCs and Microsoft's OneNote app:

Race cars aren't the only fast machines at this year's Indy 500. Target Chip Ganassi Racing engineers are using new Fujitsu Stylistic Model ST501D Tablet PCs running Microsoft OneNote to help them design, build, tune, and run three Toyota-powered IndyCars in the world's largest motorsports event.

Michael Carbone, IT director for Chip Ganassi Racing, said they looked at other brands of ruggedized PCs, but decided to outfit fifteen members of the engineering staff with Fujitsu Stylistic Tablet PCs, because of the 12.1-inch XGA TFT indoor/outdoor display. "The display actually gets brighter as the sun gets brighter," Carbone said.

Julian Robertson, Chief Engineer for the #33 Target Toyota IndyCar, said racing the Target Racing team members prefer Tablet PCs to laptops when working in the pit lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where harsh conditions can severely task both engineers and their tools.

“Our tablets are fully functional PCs, but they are lighter and easier to use,” he said. “We save a lot of time writing on the screen with a stylus rather than keyboarding.”

To make life at trackside easier, Ganassi Racing recently deployed Microsoft OneNote, a Tablet PC application that helps a highly mobile staff to pull together engineering data, meeting notes and data from other sources, according to Robertson.

He said OneNote’s file structure has allowed them to replace paper notebooks, and lends itself well to the particular challenge that all race teams face when setting up a race car. Indy 500 Tablet PC

“The way we used to do it, the engine and chassis data and track maps were on a sheet of paper, and we had to use pens to make notes on it and pass the sheets around the pit so everyone could see it,” he said.

Robertson said they are now recording a driver’s spoken comments about how the car is handling as a Windows Media Audio file and can do a voice overlay within a OneNote document along with a track diagram to show where the car went fast or slow. Such OneNote documents can be instant messaged to engineers back at the garages and stored for future use.

OneNote allows him and the other engineers to create a set-up sheet for each car that incorporates raw data from the on-board data acquisition systems with various track maps with an actual audio file of the driver explaining practice laps, Robertson said.

He said OneNote is useful in creating reports and presentations that combine computer-aided design (CAD) drawings, data from the on-board data logging systems, and engineering notes with information gathered from various sources, such as photos of necessary parts from catalogues, on the Internet.

“That used to take several programs and quite a number of steps,” he said. “Now we can do it all with OneNote.”

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ragnar @ May 21st 2005 12:37PM

I'm sorry, but this whole article sounds like a paid commercial for Microsoft... Where is the journalism?

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Mick @ May 21st 2005 12:46PM

Is a factually incorrect article to boot. OneNote is not a tabletPC only application.

vote up vote downReportNeutral @ May 21st 2005 12:58PM

Not to mention, all the teams are using this high level of technology (just may not have hit the tablet pc's yet).

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JD @ May 22nd 2005 12:33PM

I definitely agree this whole thing reeks of a Fujitsu/MS paid advertisement.

But, I pretty much agree with everything in this article. I'm a huge fan of OneNote. A friend recommended it to me when I complained about needing a better way to organize my project notes. I can definitely see how OneNote would work well for all the things listed in the article.

Circus Ponies NoteBook looks interesting too. But the key to OneNote is that it is really a pen-based application that also happens to have handwriting recognition and keyboard support. I can write anywhere, I can draw anywhere, etc. It doesn't look like I can do that in Circus Ponies NoteBook.

Now, if Steve Jobs would get off his lazy, bloated, iPod ass, and release a Tablet Mac!.....

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Peter Rojas @ May 22nd 2005 12:47PM

We do NOT sell our editorial under any circumstances. Patrick is at the Indy 500 and thought it was interesting that one of the teams was using Tablet PCs, that is all. I sincerely doubt that Microsoft even knows that we've done this article.

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Josh Einstein @ May 22nd 2005 1:54PM

They know now cause I forwarded it over to someone on the Tablet PC team. But anyway this is a good article because it does demonstrate the flexibility of the Tablet PC that Microsoft has unfortunately failed to get through to the public.

Now what about something from NASCAR?

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Gavin @ May 22nd 2005 3:56PM

I think naskar is still taking notes on coon skin.

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AlanAudio @ May 22nd 2005 4:17PM

Does that Fujitsu tablet PC really get bright enough to use in direct sunlight ?

Here in the UK, where sunlight isn't so extreme, I've seen all sorts of computers used for the tuning of advanced racing cars in competition.

Tablets initially looked to be very promising, but seeing the display in bright sunlight is often very difficult, whereas a conventional laptop can be partially closed in such a way that the screen is shaded and data can be entered via the keyboard.

Most teams now seem to be moving away from tablets.

They work well enough in the covered areas of the pit workshops, but once you get on the starting grid and want to do some last minute tweaks, you can't always make out the display in the sun.

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Cacho @ May 22nd 2005 6:37PM

Maybe you sent someone to the racetrack, but the overall tone of the article is still funny. What's with that line that "...Tablet PCs running Microsoft OneNote to help them design, build, tune, and run three Toyota-powered IndyCars..."?

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Snappy! @ May 22nd 2005 9:16PM

How about if we give MS a pat on their back (and Fujitsu as well for its transflective TFT screen) when they do get it right? ;)

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gary ramone @ May 23rd 2005 6:34AM

i still have a fujitsu stylistic 500, monochrome 486dx4 w/ 20megs ram and a 365meg hd. helped me get my mcse in 15 days (took transenders whenever i had a free minute). great machines the guys at fujitsu make, just wish they weren't so damn expensive. i've seen one note in action and it is pretty cool. the info world has made us cynical. spell check that one!

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Rick Lobrecht @ May 23rd 2005 8:38AM

They've been using Tablet PCs for a while, but this is the first a mention of One Note. Its a good use of the technology. I've gotten a lot of benefit from using One Note instead of spiral notebooks (on a regular PC first, and then on a Tablet.) As for NASCAR, I would think Ganassi's NASCAR teams (Sterling Marlin, Jamie McMurray, and Casey Mears) might be among the first to use similar technology, if the F1 teams are really finding it useful.

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Cole Oregan @ May 23rd 2005 9:59AM

I am a closet race fan, in addition to a IT professional, and have done quite a bit of research on the Ganassi team over the past 3 years. These guys are way ahead of their compeition when it comes to adopting technology (and everybody in the garage knows it) and both their NASCAR and IRL teams benefit as a result. Now all they need is a decent driver to get them into victory lane more.

NASCAR prohibits the use of data communication with the cars during the race (only radio communication is allowed) and Ganassi uses their suite of applications during testing, which is legal. I have seen their crew chiefs first hand in Vegas this year use their tablet PC's in the pits during the race to communicate between their pitboxes (also legal). Very cool stuff. If Jeff Gordon had access to Ganassi's technology, he would win 10+ races a year not 5.

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Alex Langford @ May 23rd 2005 10:17AM

More importantly, Microsoft Marketing must be sleeping to have this relationship and use it so infrequently. I have tried to research Microsoft and Racing and have found only little blurbs. Isn't technology all about speed, performance and reliability? Racing is all about the same attributes...Wake up Microsoft, in my opinion, you are hitting singles when you should be swinging for the fences with this stuff.

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Mark Harr @ May 23rd 2005 11:25AM

Josh; some NASCAR teams have been doing TabletPC for awhile now. See


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