EdTech and MedTech – Potential Second Act of F1 Motorhomes

(WilliamsF1 motorhome)

I love watching motorsports racing although I myself barely exceed maximum speed limit while driving. Not to brag, but the last time I ever got a speeding ticket was like 10 years ago. Even then it was just 10 km/h more than the imposed speed limit. No excuse, it was my fault and I paid the fine. And of all kind of motorsports, Formula 1 or F1 has special place in my heart. Yes, that one particular sport where 20 cars were driven around and around for at least 300 km and with speed exceeds 300 km/h at some point (i.e Parabolica, 130R, Eau Rouge). Favourite team(s)? McLaren and Williams (I’m rooting for Williams for now as I disagree with McLaren’s decision to hire one particular driver. No need to mention name). Favourite circuit(s)? Spa-Francorchamps, Monza and Melbourne. Favourite driver(s)? Mika Hakkinen,  Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya (that Colombian just nuts!)

But why F1? Why not soccer? Or golf? (Well, I did play golf from time to time, but I see golf more as business tool, not sport).

I love motorsports in general. So F1 would be at the top of my list, followed closely by WRC and Formula E (I love its sound which much like a bunch of killer robots that you just released for it to find its victim). I watched it for what I called 3S.

Speed. Strategy. Sponsorship.

But of all things and emotions that happened on-track, whether F1, WRC or Formula E, there’s another thing that has always caught my attention.

The teams’ motorhomes.

(Ducati’s motorhome at MotoGP)

(Red Bull Racing’s F1 trucks)

Although the F1 glamours usually reserved for the drivers and their cars, the teams’ motorhomes are not something to sneeze at, as it brought teams’ cars, parts, support equipments and even office and kitchen from one circuit to another (mostly for European races. For outside Europe, the team flew them direct to the specific circuits). Everytime it moves, it’s like a huge, long motorcade moving through highways like an armoured division of any military arm (for example, McLaren team has 12 of those for each race). And to erect a structure out of those trailers (and also taking it down), it takes from few hours to 2 days. But once erected, the building not only becomes a place for the team’s engineers to do their work, but also serves as marketing tools for the team and temporary wind-down shelter for their drivers.

If you ever wonder what’s inside the motorhome, take a look at video below where it shows WilliamsF1 motorhome, courtesy of YouTube.


(McLaren Communication Center, the ‘old’ motorhome. Image from motorsport.com)

(McLaren Brand Center, the new motorhome. Image from McLaren’s twitter)

But of course, all good things must come to an end. WilliamsF1′ motorhome is still a relatively new (their previous motorhome was a bit bland, to say the least). McLaren has replaced their ‘Communication Center’ to a ‘Brand Center’ (not sure if it actually helps them win the race. They should look at Renault F1 team circa 2005-2006 where Renault F1 team had a boring motorhome and yet managed to clinch back-to-back championship. Just sayin’). And what should we do with those mastodons once it’s no longer cool enough to be kept at the paddock?


Healthcare and Medical Centre (MedTech)

(MONARCH Systems Mobile Hospital. Image from ArchDaily)

Ever encounter a design concept called MONARCH Systems Mobile Hospital (pdf file here)? It’s a concept designed by Hord Coplan Macht and SPEVCO to provide a scalable medical care. The concept is the combination either a small number of trailers that could serve as simple healthcare clinic or a large number that could even serve as full-scale hospital. This could be helpful to people living in rural areas especially if healthcare service is minimal or close to non-existent. By combining trailer either from basic to full-fledge, specific service could be offered on rotation basis and could be life-changing moment for people lives far away from town. And one trailer could be dedicated to administration and communication from that remote area to an established medical centre like St Jude Hospital.

Startups or NGOs that involved in healthcare should look into this concept as this could be a model to bring healthcare to a wider coverage. And motorsports teams could be enticed to ‘donate’ their old motorhomes for this purpose instead of selling it as pre-loved. Whether it’s purely for marketing and goodwill purposes or they really mean to change the world for the better is not up to us to decide right?

If there’s one thing that we really need to bring this initiative to reality is making sure the availability of network connectivity, especially the one that caters remote locations. Using internet powered by something like Google Loon’s balloon or now-defunct Facebook Aquila’s flying drone (as I think 5G technology is too early and I doubt it’d be commercially viable to launch it if the population is too scattered), we can provide healthcare to a remote population and enabled new technologies like :


Large Imaging Files

MRI or CT scan file is usually large size, so having a reliable network to transmit it to specialist would be needed. If network connectivity is less than desirable, the files transmitted would take a longer time to be transmitted and it means lesser people would be properly diagnosed. The ability to diagnose and interpret the image quicker would mean faster treatment and recovery for patient, which would be critical as the nearest purpose-built medical facility might be located hundred of miles away.



Having a reliable network would also mean a high-quality video conferencing with medical specialist or surgeon. No longer such conference will be done from a makeshift tent or less than desirable venue, but it will be established inside the mobile healthcare centre which will ensure privacy of the patients. It also allows proper collaboration between remote and established medical centre and allows more efficient and faster communication for all involved.


Remote Surgery

What’s cooler than having the opportunity to help others in remote places, especially in surgical operation? Operating it remotely of course. If the mobile medical centre like MONARCH concept has an operating room with reliable connectivity, it means an army of specialist surgeons no longer needed to travel with the entourage to do the operation, save maybe just a few to monitor the progress locally. Medical students would also benefits as they can learn by watch the progress of operation as real time as possible.


Training and Education Centre (EdTech)

(Orbis Flying Eye Hospital. Image from Orbis)

Part hospital, part education facility.

Orbis Flying Eye Hospital is not only a plane. It’s a hospital which happens to fly and has its own operation theatre as well as training facility for medical personnel in developing countries whom may lack or only little access to professional development and training. Not only an eye operation can be done on-board (while not flying of course), it also has classroom for local medical personnel to observe live surgeries.

Now let’s expand it to the proposed mobile medical centre. By having one trailer (or modular container section) dedicated for training and education, we can train local medical and healthcare personnel on how to better treat the patients, according to best practice and current knowledge. Instructors no longer bound by distance and location, and any training can be provided as long as there are qualified personnel, network connectivity and proper training facilities.

But why stop there? We talked a lot of edtech ‘innovations’ like Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), educational software, online collaboration etc. that sometimes we forgot that in some places, the one that they actually need is a place called school. And to erect time takes time and probably huge sum of money as well. Why can’t we build one using those motorhomes instead? It’s mobile enough, and it’s modular enough that should the need arise, we can add more trailer to cater them as we need. How many times we talked about the need of technological advancement in education that we forgot some of them may need things as basic as PC? Do we still remember the story of a teacher who teaches his students MS Word by actually drawing the GUI of it on blackboard (kudos to Microsoft for helping him out).

Sometimes we talked too much about the latest, most advanced rockets-science level of educational software, that we forgot the education part of it. As much as I never went to a boarding school or even schooled at some established one during my days, I’m still glad that I have a proper facility that I can called as ‘school’. But how many of us actually longing for such thing? Examples below should open our eye and mind that in this 21st century, there are still people looking at having proper educational facilities and programs as some luxury. If we let this trend continue, would we end up with ‘Rich School, Poor School’?

(A school under a bridge in New Delhi. Image and article from Al Jazeera)

(A poor infrastructure at a school in Eastern Cape. Image from Gillian Benjamin. Full article here)

(Bonus) Mobile Corporate Office

I’ve talked about how corporate office may be replaced by coworking space here and here. But why stop there?

Imagine your company (either you own it or you work with) has deep pocket and willing to do some ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking by buying a mobile office instead of sticking with the policy of working either from dedicated office or coworking space. It would be fun for the employees to work somewhere close to the beach at this week and somewhere near a national park at the next. How many of us are longing for the day we can have a different view (quite literally) if only for a few days and instead of dealing with traffic jam going to and from our existing office, we spend our working hour close to Bondi beach instead?

Honestly I’m not sure if Google or Facebook would be interested in this concept. For all it’s worth, Amazon could build their HQ3 this way one day (but they have to buy plenty of trailers). And if WeWork starts to offer this as part of their coworking space program, maybe I’d sell one of my kidney to be part of the tribe.


(Another Bonus)Food Truck

Any fast-food company wanna give it a try? It’s going to be one helluva food truck. Maybe even bigger than their own physical, fixed-based outlet. Maybe not McDonald’s though, as owning real-estate is part of their business. But who knows maybe Starbucks or Jollibee wanna give it try. It’d be awesome isn’t it if in the future Starbucks motto would no longer be ‘a third place between home and work’ but ‘everywhere place’.

There you go. A potential second life of F1 (or motorsports in general) motorhomes. Maybe their second life could be more meaningful and have greater impact than the first.

So, any motorsports team wanna start the ball rolling?

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