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TCS NYC Marathon Debuts Augmented Reality App For Runners

2019 TCS NYC Marathon debuts its new augmented reality app for runners with interactive bibs. Spectators can use cell phones to view an AR mural as well.


In their sixth year of sponsoring, Tata Consultancy Services is debuting its TCS NYC Marathon app, available both in the App Store and on Google Play. It’s an augmented reality app for runners and spectators to get the most out of the marathon on November 3, 2019.

Augmented Reality for Runners Leading Up to Race Day

Last year, The New York City Marathon had 52,813 finishing participants from over 129 countries. This year, even more runners are expected to race and raise money for charity.

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New York Road Runners and TCS have come together to create an app for Apple and Android mobile phones. I downloaded the TCS NYC Marathon app and tried it for myself. The look of the app’s logo has Lady Liberty on it – love this.

TCS NYC Marathon AR appI’m not a runner, but if I was going to prep for the big day, I’d definitely have this app. It has important event information on it and tracks where runners are in the race. It also has cheer cards to celebrate a completed race with runners. The one of a kind app also has an augmented reality section for both runners and spectators.

On race day, every runner will get a bib or a card they wear with their number on it. When the app section named Augmented Reality is selected, smartphones open the camera. Next, a video of Shalane Flannagan, 2017 TCS New York City Marathon champion, plays. If you turn the camera the video stops.

New and returning runners may need extra encouragement to beat their best running times. “Starting on October 31st, a new video will play each day up to the race and then a congratulatory message after a runner finishes,” according to a press statement given to us by TCS.

How Does the App for Runners Work?

Cleverly, the app for runners turns reality into augmented reality with Wikitude. Specifically, the mobile phone software has plane detection. Furthermore, this allows users to view the bib and mural head-on or askew at a 146-degree angle.

Testing the app, I noticed that Shalane Flannagan doesn’t appear three dimensional, but does appear as a two-dimensional video of herself.

Holding up your cell phone, you’ll see that the camera recognizes image anchors placed on bibs and the mural on N 10th St and Wythe Ave in Brooklyn. This projects the marathon winner and moving images from the 16’ x 39’ mural onto mobile phones.

The mural shows runners racing through Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and two other signature NYC areas. By using mobile phones with five cities as image anchors, moving art and race facts appear over reality.

Do I Recommend It?

If you’re a runner who is participating in one of the biggest marathons in the United States and want an artistic and techy way of remembering it, I would download it. Or, if you’re a spectator who loves murals and art influenced by technology and plan on attending the marathon in New York, definitely plan a visit with the app in tow.

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To summarize, I was given a copy of the bib and a high-quality image of the mural. Since I can’t attend, I plan on framing the mural as an augmented reality art piece and hanging it up in my home. We suggest that marathon guests take screenshots and participants keep their bibs as mementos.

Juanita Leatham
the authorJuanita Leatham
Juanita is a writer for the AR, VR, and spatial realms. You can find her gaming, listening to music, writing, and hanging out with her husband and friends in her free time.