Of all the advances that have been made in "consumer level" data acquisition over the last five years, few have been as powerful and more useful than integrating the use of video into the analysis process.
Simply, the information became more easily digestible. Stack and MoTeC began selling solid state video recorders to augment their data systems about the time Randy Chase began finalizing production of the revolutionary ChaseCam PDR-100 in 2004. The first simple, inexpensive and automated system available to the Club racing driver was the integration of the Traqmate data system (introduced in 2004) with the ChaseCam PDR-100. Soon after, Race Technology came out with the solid state Video4 recorder to augment it's pioneering GPS-based DAQ recorder, the DL-1 (introduced in 2001), but both these systems required not only separate data and video recording systems and media, but also "post production," or combining the data and the video through a conversion process and outputting a video file that unified the associated files. Quickly, drivers began listening to clues evident in throttle application or watching steering wheel technique in their videos. A quantum leap!
As with most technology, the hardware measurement of speeds and forces acting on the car are all relatively accurate and comparable among themselves in systems ranging from the $699 AiM Solo DL to the $40,000 MoTeC ADL3. The addition of the AiM SmartyCam to the Solo DL on the lower end, all the way up to augmenting a MoTeC ADL3 through the addition of their video capture system (VCS), is worth MUCH more than the sum of there parts.
For many track day and club racing level drivers, the simplicity of a unified system such as the Aim SmartyCam, Video VBOX Lite, Race-Keeper or even single-trigger synchronized systems such as Traqmate/GoPro HD combination is very appealing. Currently there is a "sweet spot" around $1800 of several "consumer grade" systems and combinations that work great. While there's been much buzz about HD video, my experience shows that the processing requirements (computer hardware), video file size and storage requirements are not worth the premium over a good SD (standard definition) system. After all, all we're trying to do is use this as a tool, and less as entertainment, to go faster. It's exciting times as new technology is unveiled. And it's only going to get better...
Krause is a leader in the field of professional coaches using technology to provide a data-driven, objective measure, as well as the use of simulation training for course familiarization and technique enhancement. More information can be found at www.peterkrause.net or www.gofasternow.com