At some point in every track-day adventure, you reach the conclusion you're the fastest out there as you clip the perfect apex. And then a hot-shoe in an identical car out-brakes you and pulls away after a few corners. So much for mastering the art!
Naturally, you're going to wonder what brake marker he used, when did he turn-in, at what point did he pick-up the throttle and by how much? These are all legitimate questions, and good luck getting answers to those trade secrets, until now...
Enter the BMW M Power App, a new iOS-based program for your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch (with Android to follow). It's a game changer for in-car information. "The big picture here is to help drivers learn how to drive better and more safely," said Paul Doersch, Advanced Technology Engineer at BMW.
And how does BMW propose to make you a better driver with an App? By turning your BMW into a track-day "data acquisition and analysis" system that communicates with the car's onboard sensors to record and display data such as a track map, g-force, accelerometer, throttle position, steering input, braking forces, environmental temperature, fuel efficiency, GPS position and speed plus engine RPM.
BMW isn't using the phone's sensors, but tapping into the car's systems to allow the M Power App to record and playback different parameters from recent and saved tracking outings in real time.
Track map showing two cars so you can compare laps with a friend
Throttle position and speed graphs for corner analysis
g-force graphic shows amount and direction of force
With all that data, it can actually replay your laps, showing green where you were accelerating, and red for braking. It also shows steering input. You can then analyze graphs that display throttle position, g-force, braking force, speed, etc, at any point during the lap.
Want to know at what point you started braking into Turn One and how hard? How about how quickly you got back on the gas exiting Turn Three? It's all in the App.
And there's more - the M Power App has a useful social media aspect so you can share your track outings with friends via Twitter, Facebook or email. While you'll undoubtedly impress everybody, it also allows you to compare laps with other BMW drivers who have the same App, which is where it can help you become a better driver.
Once you've swapped files with somebody, you can use the head-to-head ghost comparison mode to overlay both your laps and see where your inputs are different - both the track graphic and graphs will show who's on the gas first and harder, who brakes later and harder, how much steering angle you had, how much g-force you generated, etc.
It's like watching a replay of your last lap on a video game overlaid with the ghost image of another car. This will allow you to compare inputs and, in the case of the M Power App, all the parameters will undoubtedly help you become a better driver on the same course.
Inside the App you'll find several pre-programmed tracks maps like Laguna Seca. If you're visiting a smaller facility or autocross, etc, the App features a track generator that will create a new map based on GPS data. This track can then be saved, uploaded and shared.
While you shouldn't get ideas about comparing the fastest route to work with your colleagues, it will allow you to plot your route to work and analyze fuel economy. It could also compare different daily routes for economy and speed to calculate the most efficient.
If all the technology packed into the App wasn't awesome enough, Phil Johnston, (BMW Group Application Integration Manager), confirmed it will be free to download from iTunes and only requires iOS6. Of course, you need a BMW and it will require the BMW Apps option, plus a USB port with the 6NR option activated or the Snap-in adapter. The App isn't just for BMW M cars: any BMW model equipped with these options can play, too.
All you do is activate the App, hit record and drive. The App displays the BMW M logo while driving, so you won't be distracted looking at your cornering g-force. But once you finish a lap and stop recording, you can play it back and compare to other laps or drivers