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⌚  Is Apple working on a smart band to analyze sports performance?

⌚ Is Apple working on a smart band to analyze sports performance?

Dear Friends and Members,

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Next week we plan to publish our next weekly sports and tech analysis. 

📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

👓 Verizon and Snap team up for Snapchat 5G augmented reality features

⌚  Apple Watch patent describes smart band to analyze sports performance

🎮  Inside Josh Hart’s ‘BattleStation,’ NBA esports craze: ‘The love — it’s genuine’

💸 Latest Investment Trends

📊 Tech Stats of the Week

📸 Snapshots of the Week

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories


🎮 AR/VR/Video Sports News

👓 Verizon and Snap team up for Snapchat 5G augmented reality features| Via: VentureBeat

Over the past few years, Snapchat has become one of the world’s most popular soft augmented reality tools, adding photo and video filters that apply special effects to faces or buildings in real time. Last week, parent company Snap and Verizon announced a partnership that will leverage the latter’s 5G cellular network for new augmented reality features — an opportunity to make some of the mobile giant’s big AR promises actually come true.

The deal makes Snap an “official 5G innovation partner” for Verizon, enabling the developer to use 5G test equipment at Verizon’s 5G Labs to create 5G-enabled experiences that can take advantage of the considerably higher bandwidth, lower latency, and greater access to edge computing resources the networks will provide. Snap will also get the benefit of seeing Snapchat preloaded on “select 5G phones” sold by Verizon, which is to say Android phones, not future iPhones.

For users, the most compelling element of the deal may wind up being something the companies aren’t discussing today: evolution of Snap’s Spectacles. Up until this point, the company’s fashionable glasses have focused primarily on enabling photography, but a deal with Verizon could position Snap to quietly advance the wearable with greater AR functionality, matching still nascent initiatives from Facebook and Apple. Wearables with integrated 5G functionality are expected to become a major business over the next five years, following updates to the 5G standard and further size reductions in 5G chips.

⬆️ The Upside:  We think that 5G will positively impact the future version of Snap’s Spectacles. In fact, we believe that Snap could decide to introduce some 5G enabled AR/VR glasses with a slim form factor. That being said, we believe that it will be difficult for Snap to effectively compete against Apple in the AR glasses space.


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚  Apple Watch patent describes smart band to analyze sports performance | Via: 9to5Mac

An Apple Watch patent granted today describes the inclusion of one or more cameras capable of photographing the user, hinting at Face ID on the Watch.

The patent also describes how sensors in a smart band could be used to analyze sports performance in such activities as football, baseball, and golf…

The patent application was originally made in September 2017, and was granted today.

The main focus is on the smart band, explaining how sensors could be used for sports coaching. In baseball or golf, for example, strain gauges could be used to analyze the grip, and accelerometers and barometric sensors used to analyze the swing.

The strain gauges can be coupled with one or more other types of sensors to provide analysis and user feedback. The device can determine the axial orientation on the user’s wrist. The user can grip an instrument. In some examples, the instrument can be a sports instrument (e.g., golf club, baseball bat, etc.). The strain gauges can be used to determine how tightly the user is gripping the sports instrument. The user may then proceed to follow through with a specific sports motion (e.g., swinging the golf club or throwing a football). The motion sensors can measure the user’s performance in terms of, for example, acceleration, trajectory of the sports instrument, etc.

⬆️ The Upside: We think that it would make sense for Apple to introduce a smart band capable of analyzing specific sports motion for sports like golf, baseball. It would add additional value to the Apple Watch and would help drive the Apple Watch’s future sales.


🎮 eSports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮  Inside Josh Hart’s ‘BattleStation,’ NBA esports craze: ‘The love — it’s genuine’ | Via: nola.com

A short story about Josh Hart’s mostly empty house was all it took to confirm the Pelicans guard was the right man to help pilot a dive into the NBA’s esports subculture.

It came just weeks after the former Los Angeles Lakers guard had relocated to New Orleans, said Jason Berger, owner and founder of Los Angeles content studio Kids at Play — one of the brains behind the web series “BattleStations” that takes viewers inside some of the biggest game rooms filled with some of the world’s biggest frames.

Josh Hart and “BattleStations” host Doug “Censor” Martin look on at the Pelicans guard’s gaming setup within his New Orleans home (contributed photo).

Hart was in the process of moving to New Orleans to join his new team when he was approached to be part of the series. But priority No. 1? Get that gaming room set up.

“He still had boxes in his house. But the game room: pristine. It was like it had been curated perfectly,” Berger said. “The house was beautiful obviously, but there wasn’t a ton of stuff set there. He basically just had his dog and his couch … it was perfect.”

The shoot took about six hours start to finish in late September, with Hart leading host Doug “Censor” Martin into his home before opening the doors to what could’ve doubled as a sci-fi movie set.

Backlit in blue with double widescreen monitors, a keyboard shining like a beacon and a gaming chair fit for a spaceship, Hart sat within his in-home gaming palace as he explained one of the biggest tests he’d encountered to date in his move: Switching from console to PC gaming.

“I was travelling, doing all that stuff – so I bought a laptop. So I was doing stuff on my laptop,” Hart said. “Honestly last night was the first time I got back onto this actual setup. As you can see, still getting used to my New Orleans life.”

That setup also includes a full NBA Jam arcade closet in one corner with his 2018 NBA Summer League MVP trophy alongside. The opposite wall features side-by-side mounted 65-inch TVs with a Nintendo Switch seated below.

⬆️ The Upside: Many NBA players are die hard gamers. It should not come as a surprise to see players like Josh Hart setting up gaming set ups in their own house. It is also worth pointing out that a growing number of sports stadiums are now being designed with sections specifically dedicated to eSports.


💸 Sports Investment Trends — December, 2019

  • Mixed Reality startup LIV raises $2.6m in Funding From Hiro Capital for its Revolutionary Mixed Reality Game Streaming Platform. Read on here.
  • Misfits Gaming Group Launches $10M Esports & Gaming Incubator and Seed Fund MSF.IO. Read on here.

📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week

$4.5B: Viagogo Entertainment has agreed to acquire StubHub from eBay in a deal valued at $4.05B, according to statements from the company released last week.

$500M: City Football Group, which owns Manchester City, New York City FC and several other soccer clubs across the globe, is selling more than 10% of itself to private equity firm Silver Lake for $500 million, according to the Financial Times.

$80.8M: The total amount of money included in MLB’s 2019 players’ pool. The players’ pool is formed from 50 percent of the gate receipts from the Wild Card Games; 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first three games of the Division Series; 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first four games of the League Championship Series; and 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first four games of the World Series.

+6%: Dick’s Sporting Goods reported its best quarterly sales result in six years yesterday, with same-store sales up 6% in its third quarter, according to the company.

+6%: NFL female game viewership rose 6% during the first 10 weeks of the 2019 season. That’s better than the 5% boost for male viewers.

x3: Christiano Ronaldo helped to double Shopee’s gross orders to 321M and more than triple its e-commerce sales to $230M.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots of The Week.

VR + Live data. Battles from the Bench was the first VR game to feature real NHL team marks, real players and real data at the 2019 NHL All Star game. Hi-def and slow motion cameras were used to create this VR experience. The experience was the most visited partner activation at the 2019 NHL All Star Fan Fair. It recorded 3,500 engagements over three days, and garnered 31,000 impressions.

🏈 New player in injury prevention space? Amazon

🏈 New player in injury prevention space? Amazon

Dear Friends and Members,

We just published our analysis on why athletes are focusing on Instagram, so be sure to sign up for our premium subscription by clicking the “subscribe now” button below.

Looking for access all of our previously published analysis, insights, data, podcast interviews, and more? Subscribe now to unlock access!

Next week we plan to publish our next weekly sports and tech analysis. 

📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

👓 Pokemon Go maker Niantic is working with Qualcomm to build AR glasses

👓 Magic Leap reportedly only sold 6,000 AR headsets in six months

🏈   Amazon Deal With N.F.L. Primes the Cloud to Help Treat Player Injuries

⌚  How Whoop wearable device could solve NBA’s load management problem

🎮  Cavs Legion GC to open new recreational esports facility

💸 Latest Investment Trends

📊 Tech Stats of the Week

📸 Snapshots of the Week

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories


🎮 AR/VR/Video Sports News

👓 Pokemon Go maker Niantic is working with Qualcomm to build AR glasses | Via: NextWeb

Pokemon Go creator Niantic announced last night it’s collaborating with Qualcomm to build AR glasses. The announcement, made at Qualcomm’s annual tech summit in Hawaii, meant both companies will join hands to create reference hardware, software, and cloud-components for AR-based wearable devices.

The project will have two main components: Qualcomm’s newly announced 5G-supported mixed reality platform Snapdragon XR2, and Niantic‘s Real World Platform, which has powered games such as Pokemon GoIngress, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

In June, Niantic announced it’s accepting applications from developers to gain access to its Real World Platform. The company added the collaborative platform built in partnership with Qualcomm will also be a part of the dev kit slated to be released sometime next year.

Qualcomm’s XR2 platform packs several improvements in areas like video bandwidth, resolution, and CPU performance over last year’s Snapdragon XR1. The platform also supports hardware with seven concurrent cameras, and a dedicated computer vision chip for enhanced head and hand tracking.

It’s quite early to say if we’ll see folks in the street wearing glasses and throwing invisible pokeballs to catch em’ all, but one can dream, right?

⬆️ The Upside:  We think that it makes sense for Niantic to be working on some 5G enabled AR smart glasses. Ultimately Niantic could convert a good portion of its 147M Pokemon Go active monthly users to these AR glasses. It would help create a mass market for AR glasses. The key there is going to offer some 5G smart glasses at a reasonable price.

👓 Magic Leap reportedly only sold 6,000 AR headsets in six months | Via: Engadget

After years of hype, it looks like reality is starting to catch up with Magic Leap. According to a report from The Information, the augmented reality startup and Silicon Valley darling only sold approximately 6,000 units of its $2,300 Magic Leap One Creator Edition mixed-reality headset through the first six months that it was available.

While 6,000 is a modest sales figure by almost any metric, it’s made worse by Magic Leap’s initial targets. The Information writes CEO Rony Abovitz had told investors he hoped the company would sell “at least” 1 million units of the Magic Leap One in its first year of availability. Eventually, he was reportedly convinced that 100,000 was a more realistic goal. Sales of the headset, however, have been so poor that the company recently started giving employees free units.

Understandably, poor sales have strained Magic Leap, with The Information reporting that the company recently laid off “dozens” of employees across multiple departments. The company has instituted other cost-saving measures as well, such as freezing work travel for some departments and slowing the pace at which it hires new employees. Unsurprisingly, it also appears Magic Leap has a long road towards sustainability; the company apparently burned through between $40 and $50 million per month through much of 2018.

It also appears several notable executives have left the company’s board of directors — though it’s not clear if any of shakeups are directly related to Magic Leap’s fiscal troubles. Newly-minted Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly left the company’s board sometime last year. The Information says it was told by a source Pichai vacated his position due to “the demands of his schedule,” so the change may not have been a judgment of Magic Leap. It’s also worth noting Google, which led a reported $542 million investment in the company in 2014, still has a voice on Magic Leap’s board. Pichai’s position was taken over by Google Maps vice-president Jennifer Fitzpatrick.

When asked to comment on the article, a spokesperson for Magic Leap told The Information its reporting was “littered with inaccuracies and misleading statements, and erroneously portrays Magic Leap’s operations, internal plans and overall strategy.” Engadget has reached out to Magic Leap for additional information and comment.

Before writing Magic Leap off, there are a couple of points to keep in mind. The first and most important is that The Information attributes its 6,000 unit figure to a single source. There are a lot of reasons why the publication may have been unable to verify the number — one of which is that it seems Magic Leap hasn’t talked sales numbers with its own rank-and-file employees. All the same, we just don’t know how accurate that number is. However, what we do know for certain is that a lot of AR and VR companies, both big and small, have struggled recently. For example, Google recently discontinued Daydream ViewJaunt, another startup that had a lot of hype behind it, recently sold all its tech to Verizon (Engadget’s parent company). Even if it sold more units, Magic Leap is likely feeling the same pressure that almost everyone else in the industry is.

⬆️ The Upside:  This type of report has to be taken with a grain of salt as it has not been confirmed by Magic Leap execs. That being said, it is fair to say that currently it remains challenging for most AR smart glasses vendors to create a mass market for smart glasses. In the enterprise space, many enterprise customers are still in the pilot stage for many reasons: (1) Poor batter life of AR glasses. (2) Low usage rate (3) Limited FOV. (4) Hefty price of AR smart glasses.


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

🏈   Amazon Deal With N.F.L. Primes the Cloud to Help Treat Player Injuries | Via: Fortune

Amazon and the National Football League announced a deal to use the tech giant’s cloud-computing services to help solve the epidemic of injuries—and especially concussions—afflicting the sport.

Amazon’s cloud unit will provide software to gather volumes of player health data, as well as analyze information and scan video images to better treat and rehabilitate injuries. The league and company hope to eventually use the software tools, which include a new “digital athlete” platform, to predict and prevent injuries.

It’s the latest agreement between Amazon and the most-watched U.S. sports league. The company is in the second year of a $130 million deal to show Thursday night NFL games on its Prime video service.

While Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy talked up the partnership’s potential to help with player safety, it will also strengthen the relationship between Amazon and the NFL at a key moment for Amazon’s video aspirations. The league’s billion-dollar TV deals expire in the next few years, and streaming services like Amazon Prime and its competitors have been experimenting with live game feeds. Amazon is likely to be among the bidders for a larger package.

Proponents of artificial intelligence and machine learning say the technology could revolutionize a wide array of medical and health fields. Still, such work is early and some systems have shown issues with bias or unreliable results. Amazon’s own Rekognition software for image scanning and facial recognition has struggled to identify subjects with darker skin.

Player safety, particularly head injuries, has been a major point of focus for the league in recent years. Dwindling participation at the youth levels, plus evolving research and a lawsuit brought by former players has forced the sport to address the issue more forcefully.

Those efforts have taken on urgency as former players continue to speak out about the affect of head injuries on their post-retirement life. Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who retired earlier this year, has said he sustained around 20 concussions playing football.

The league unrolled new concussion protocol in 2016, then made major revisions again in 2017, all aimed at diagnosing players in a safer and more efficient manner. The league also recently launched a $3M challenge to create a safer helmet.

The number of concussions sustained by NFL players varies widely by year. In 2018, the NFL reported 214 total concussions in the preseason and regular season, the second lowest total since 2011. In 2017, it was 281, the highest in that time frame.

⬆️ The Upside: We think that this move by Amazon should not come as a surprise as the Amazon AWS team has good expertise leveraging the power of AI to analyze data. Now it remains to be seen if Amazon will end up becoming a solid competitor to the likes of Kitman Labs in the injury prevention software space. It is also unclear if Amazon intends to become a key player in this emerging space. For the NFL, it is a good move in its quest to be more vocal about injury prevention to help improve players’ safety.

⌚  How Whoop wearable device could solve NBA’s load management problem | Via: Fox Business

As the NBA and other pro sports leagues increasingly treat biometric data as a competitive advantage, the executives behind the wearable device Whoop are aiming to establish their subscription service as the technology of choice for high-performing athletes.

Founded in 2012 by former Harvard University squash captain Will Ahmed, Whoop tracks the biometric data and provides recommendations designed to guide wearers on their sleep schedule, exercise intensity and when to ramp up or slow down their workouts. The latest investors in Series D round led by Foundry Group joined existing backers such as former NBA Commissioner David Stern, NBA superstar Kevin Durant and the NFL Players Association.

Whoop’s connections in pro sports should prove valuable as leagues modernize their policies on wearable technology and navigate issues such as load management – a divisive practice in NBA circles in which teams selectively rest players based on a close study of their workload and biometric data. Ahmed and his investors are confident that Whoop is positioned to capitalize on the trend.

“I think you’ll look back on this time period of professional athletes not measuring sleep as sort of this insane moment in the history of sports,” Ahmed told FOX Business. “It’ll just seem so fundamental in the future. People will compare to when baseball players were smoking cigarettes in the dugout – it will just seem crazy that professional athletes weren’t measuring sleep and recovery.”

Whoop has raised more than $100 million in its four investment rounds to date. Rather than charge users for the Whoop bracelet itself, the company operates on a subscription model starting at $30 per month. Subscribers receive the Whoop 3.0 wearable device for free as part of the signup process.

Aside from its applications for athletes and other active individuals, Stern, a prominent Whoop investor, said the device has legitimate business value for sports leagues. By making use of actionable data that warns them when to rest to avoid injury and maximize their training, star athletes can extend their playing careers – providing leagues with a greater talent pool to lure fans.

“That is my goal,” Stern said. “My overarching philosophy, aside from the load management, which is manifested by Whoop, is that if we could extend everyone’s career by a year, can you imagine the value of that? I think that can be done.”

⬆️ The Upside: We think that Whoop belongs to a growing number of wearable startups that could benefit from the growing debate around load management in the world of pro sports. Now Whoop is specialized in sleep and recovery but GPS tracking companies who also track load, are another group of startups that could benefit from this growing trend.


🎮 eSports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮  Cavs Legion GC to open new recreational esports facility | Via: ginx.tv

Cavs Legion, the NBA 2K League team of the Cleveland Cavaliers, announced plans last week to open a new state-of-the-art esports facility to serve local youth community members.

The 2,700+ square foot facility, which will be located in Cleveland’s Battery Park neighborhood, will host the new Cleveland Rec Esports Club and will feature 40 gaming stations, an analysts’ desk, soundproof streaming pods, and a confessional-booth style studio for visitors to create their own content.

Gaming stations will feature Alienware and MSI gaming desktops, as well as Raynor gaming chairs, SteelSeries peripherals, and portable WebAround green screens, presumably for content creation and live coverage backdrops.

The organization plans to begin hosting NBA 2K tournaments, watch parties, birthday parties, and corporate outings before opening to the facility to the general public sometime in 2020.

The Cleveland community is no stranger to esports, as Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert completed a multimillion-dollar investment in League of Legends team 100 Thieves, a brand that has since become one of the most successful and prominent organizations in esports.

Shortly after the investment, Gilbert and the Cavaliers launched Cavs Legion GC, became members of the NBA 2K League, and grown the league to 21 franchises before the end of its second season.

The Cavaliers are said to be the lone investors in the new facility and cost the organization roughly half a million and didn’t request any aid from the city of Cleveland.

Though the ultimate goal of the facility is to provide more tools for Cavs Legion GC to succeed, owner Dan Gilbert also hopes to introduce the Cleveland area to esports, while simultaneously introducing the world to Cleveland’s growing esports community.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that this move by the Cavs Legion GC makes a lot of sense. It will help attract new youth local talent into the Cavs Legion GC’s eSports program. Ultimately the future of eSports depends on the youth population. We believe that long term a growing number of pro teams will end up launching eSports program as a way to source and attract local talent.


💸 Sports Investment Trends — December, 2019

  • Esports organization Genvid Technologies raises $27M Series B Investment to accelerate Interactive Streaming tools & services. Read on here.
  • Noida-based Sportido raised an undisclosed amount of funding from IP Ventures in its second round of funding led by Inflection Point Ventures and SucSEED Venture Partners. Read on here.
  • Portland CBD startup Mendi has raised an $800,000 round of seed capital. CEO Rachael Rapinoe, twin sister of US Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, said the money will be used to expand the business, sign athletes and get ready for the 2020 Olympics. Read on here.

📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week

$1.5B: Peloton’s stock plunged 15% in three days this week, wiping more than $1.5 billion from its market capitalization. The connected-fitness startup is facing backlash over a holiday ad that has been widely panned as sexist, tone-deaf, and dystopian.

$343M: $343M got invested in Esports (Esports funds, licensing, and growth capital) in November 2019.

$325M: Charlotte will be MLS’s 30th club, according to multiple sources. Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is expected to pay an MLS league-record $325M expansion fee for the club, which could be announced as early as December 17, according to sources. However, that could bleed into 2020, sources also said.

130M: Instagram launched its Checkout feature in the U.S. in March 2-19, which lets users complete purchases without leaving the app. An Instagram spokesperson told the WSJ that more than 130 million people tap to reveal product tags in shopping posts every month. In recent months, athletes like Serena Williams, James Harden and teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, among others, have also utilized the Instagram Checkout feature to sell items.

$113M: What Bilibili will pay over 3 years to Riot Games for the exclusive Chinese broadcasting rights of League of Legends Worlds, according to reports.

$895,000: NFL could terminate Arizona Cardinals Josh Shaw’s $895,000 contract for betting on games.

14,000: Tokyo will be short an estimated 14,000 hotel rooms each day of the 2020 Olympics, and the city is scrambling to find alternatives for the flood of visitors.

80%: Billionaire financier Steve Cohen is in talks to acquire up to 80% of the New York Mets, according to a report from Bloomberg.

50%+: When Serena Williams released a new sequin jacket for her S by Serena fashion brand on November 20, Instagram drove more than 50% of the sales for the brand in the week following the jacket’s release, Stephanie Lim, head of e-commerce for SerenaWilliams.com, told the WSJ.

22: Twenty-two of the NBA’s 30 teams are currently on TikTok.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots of The Week.

Fencing + AI+ Live data. Dentsu Lab and Rhizomatiks have just developed the “Points of a sword visualization system”, a technology to visualize the trajectory of the points of sword leveraging deep learning and AR. With this system, sword tips can be visualized in real time (and without markers), making it easy for the audience to fully appreciate the game. It was officially adopted for the first time at the 72nd Japan Fencing Championship a few months ago. The technology will be used again at the coming Fencing World Cup on 14th and 15th December.

🏈 Latest Tech in the NFL? Live Mixed Reality

🏈 Latest Tech in the NFL? Live Mixed Reality

Dear Friends and Members,

We just published our analysis on the contactless biosensor market, so be sure to sign up for our premium subscription by clicking the “subscribe now” button below.

Looking for access all of our previously published analysis, insights, data, podcast interviews, and more? Subscribe now to unlock access!

Next week we plan to publish our next weekly sports and tech analysis. 

📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

👓 Ravens (NFL) showcase live Mixed Reality experience in its stadium

👓 Facebook has made AR ads available to all marketers through its ad manager

⌚ Valencell introduces Blood Pressure monitoring solution for wearables and hearables

⌚  Orangetheory will offer Apple Watches at 1300 studios

🎮  G2 Esports Raises $10M From Brooklyn Nets Owner Joseph Tsai

💸 Latest Investment Trends

📊 Tech Stats of the Week

📸 Snapshots of the Week

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories


🎮 AR/VR/Video Sports News

👓 Ravens (NFL) showcase live Mixed Reality experience in its stadium | Via: CBS Sports

The Baltimore Ravens are stepping up the entertainment elements they bring into their stadium. During their home game at M&T Bank Stadium last Thursday against the New York Jets, the team introduced a mixed-reality element that had fans, and anyone who saw the video on social media, in awe.

The team tweeted out the video of their insane addition to the fan game day experience. From the video, you can see in real time an animated raven flying through the stadium.

Starting at the top of the stadium above the end zone, the bird flies throughout the levels of the stadium and is complete with raven caws. The company behind this Mixed Reality experience is Quince Imaging a leading video projection mapping company which has built experiences for the MLB, NCAA, NHL, NBA, League of Legends, and more.

⬆️ The Upside:  We think that this is the kind of innovative fans experiences that will appeal to many fans in North America and Europe. In Asia, a few years ago, a similar type of live mixed reality experience was showcased in Japan during a baseball game. We expect many more sports teams in America to follow suit and offer a similar experience in the coming months as a way to improve fans engagement and attract new sponsors.

👓 Facebook has made AR ads available to all marketers through its ad manager | Via: Business Insider

Facebook announced that augmented reality (AR) ads are now available to all marketers through its ad manager according to Adweek. Advertisers can now create and incorporate AR effects into their campaigns through Facebook’s Spark AR engine and deploy the advertisements through the platform’s ad targeting system.

Spark AR has been publicly available to consumers on both Facebook and Instagram since late 2018, although only a few select brands have been able to use the tech in their ads to this point. Facebook first tested the new format last year with a feature that enabled users to “try on” different products like sunglasses directly from News Feed.

Facebook’s ultimate goal with its AR engine is likely to boost social commerce on Instagram. It’s unclear if this particular rollout will apply to Instagram as well, but, if not, we expect that it’s only a matter of time before Facebook introduces the tool to Instagram. In fact, a similar feature was tested last October on Instagram, with early brand partners like Ray-Ban and Mac and Nars Cosmetics. In line with company’s broader social commerce push, the addition of AR advertisements adds another incentive for brands looking to Instagram to drive sales.

This will also be the first time AR features are broadly deployed on a platform that has a significantly older user base and can be viewed as an experiment in older generations’ receptiveness. Snapchat and Instagram have been leading the way in AR for a few years now, but these platforms are primarily used by young people, with 62% and 67% of 18- to 29-year-olds in the US using the platforms respectively, according to the Pew Research Center.

That’s compared with just 25% of 50- to 64-year-olds or 9% of those 65 and older for Snapchat, for instance. Facebook, on the other hand, is popular across a range of age groups, with 68% of 50- to 64-year-olds and more than 50% of those 65 and older saying they use the site.

Further, early signals suggest young people are more receptive to immersive reality than older generations: In a survey conducted by Gfk and cited by eMarketer, 45% of 19- to 28-year-old respondents and 49% of 29 -to 38-year-old respondents said they’d be more likely to visit a retail store that offered an AR or VR experience, while just 31% of 39- to 53-year-olds said the same.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe this is a great move by Facebook. Facebook is using Snap’s playbook here. In the future, we expect an increasing number of sports brands, athletes, and even teams, to leverage Facebook’s AR platform as a way to drive their social commerce sales. Of note, according to eMarketer forecasts, 68.7 million people will use AR at least once a month in 2019, and that number could grow to 77.7 million by 2020.


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚ Valencell introduces Blood Pressure monitoring solution for wearables and hearables | Via: Valencell blog

High blood pressure is a global health tragedy. It is one of the largest public health epidemics in the world and affects over one billion people according to the World Health Organization – a number that has more than doubled over the last 40 years and is estimated to grow to 1.5 billion by the year 2025. This is a massive problem with 1 in 7 people in the world affected by hypertension. High blood pressure presents significant risk factors for stroke, heart failure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.

In 2019, Valencell introduced its Optical PPG-only blood pressure monitoring solution which can be embedded into wearables, hearables, headsets.

Here is a video of the Valencell’s BP monitoring solution for wearables.

Some other newer technologies are also gaining attention, like the ability to estimate blood pressure using smartphone video to identify variation in blood flow in the face, but there is much work to be done and more data to be collected to move this technology forward and make it commercially viable.

Picture: Valencell

There is also a tremendous amount of work going on in this area and in the marketplace as a whole. In this diagram, you see FDA cleared devices like arterial lines and manual and automated cuffs that are the gold standard of blood pressure monitoring. Unfortunately, they are not very comfortable or wearable.

Also pictured is the Omron Heartguide, a clinically accurate, wearable blood pressure monitor in a wristwatch form factor  The solutions here are pictured from left to right in order of technology maturity.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that we will see a true revolution with the type of blood pressure monitoring solutions Valencell and other companies are bringing to market. This will enable a wide range of wearables (e.g. hearables, smartwatches, headsets, etc.) to measure blood pressure continuously. It will also enable to better understand how eating habits and physical activities can affect blood pressure.

⌚  Orangetheory will offer Apple Watches at 1300 studios | Via: CNBC

Orangetheory Fitness announced last week that it will roll out a small new device, called “OTbeat Link” that connects customers’ Apple Watches to the fitness company’s in-studio heart rate monitoring system.

The partnership with Apple will allow customers who own Apple Watches to track workouts on screens inside the gyms without requiring an additional heart rate monitor. So, instead of going to the gym and strapping on a clunky heart rate device, you can just wear your Apple Watch while you work out. All of the stats you’d normally see on the Orangetheory displays will still appear. Workouts can be viewed in the Activity app on an iPhone afterwards.

Orangetheory said Apple Watch support will roll out to all of its 1,300 studios during the first quarter of 2020, starting with the Astor Place and Soho studios in New York City.

⬆️ The Upside: We think that this is a big win for Apple. Over the years Apple has become the most dominant player in the wearable space, with 35% of market share, as of 3Q19, according to IDC. This type of deal with Orangetheory will help the company further increase its market share moving forward. We also expect Apple to forge similar deals with large gyms/fitness franchises.


🎮 eSports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮  G2 Esports Raises $10M From Brooklyn Nets Owner Joseph Tsai | Via: eSports Observer

Today, Berlin-based esports organization G2 Esports announced that it has raised a $10M investment round from Joseph Tsai, a Taiwan-born Canadian billionaire businessman who co-founded Alibaba Group and serves as its executive vice-chairman, via his sports investment vehicle J Tsai Sports.

Only three months ago, Tsai became the owner of the  Brooklyn Nets NBA franchise. Initially, he bought 49% of the franchise for $1B in 2017 and acquired the remaining 51% for $1.35B in September, making it the highest price paid for a U.S. sports franchise at $2.35B. The previous owner of the Brooklyn Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, bought the franchise in 2010 for $200M. Comparable types of return on investment, which many franchises in the big U.S. sports leagues generated, might be what some of the esports franchise investors are potentially speculating for.

Further assets in the portfolio of J Tsai Sports include the Barclays Center, New York Liberty of the Women’s National Basketball Association, San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League, as well as investments in the Premier Lacrosse League, Los Angeles FC of Major League Soccer, and several sports media and technology companies based in North America and Asia.

This is the second investment raised by G2 Esports this year and brings the company’s total amount raised in 2019 to $27.3M. Earlier this year in February, the organization raised a $17.3M growth funding round led by several New York City-based investment groups including Seal Rock Partners, Parkwood Corporation, and Everblue Management, and several of tech and sports entrepreneurs including Yext Co-Founder and President, Brian Distelburger; Doodle Founder, Myke Näf; and Topgolf Media President, YuChiang Cheng.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that this move by Joseph Tsai. A growing number of team owners (e.g. Peter Gruber/Warriors/NBA, Dan Gilbert / Cavs / NBA..) have been investing in eSports over the past few years in order to tap into the fast growing eSports market expect to pass the $1B mark in terms of revenue this year.


💸 Sports Investment Trends — December, 2019

  • iFit, the interactive fitness streaming platform, raised $200M to accelerate its explosive growth in the connected fitness category. Read on here.
  • Sean O’Sullivan’s SOSV raised $277M in oversubscribed fourth fund. SOSV is well known for investing in hardware startups. Read on here.
  • G2 Esports raised $10M from Brooklyn Nets Owner Joseph Tsai. Read on here.
  • eSports organization ReKTGlobal adds tennis star Taylor Fritz to its growing pool of celebrity investors. Read on here.

📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week

1B: High blood pressure affects over one billion people according to the World Health Organization – a number that has more than doubled over the last 40 years and is estimated to grow to 1.5 billion by the year 2025.

$1B: NBCUniversal has received more than $1B in national advertising commitments for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the company said last week.

$324M: Ace pitcher Gerrit Cole signed a record nine-year deal worth $324M with the New York Yankees.

60M: Lebron James has signed a multi-year partnership with health and wellness company Calm. The first year includes a national marketing campaign, original audio content from the NBA star and Calm donations to youth organizations. Named Apple’s 2017 iPhone App of the Year, Calm has seen more than 60 million downloads to date, averaging 75,000 new users daily. The company generated $22 million in 2017. In February 2018, the company raised $116 million from existing investors like CAA, Insight Venture Partners and Sound Ventures, valuing the business at $1B.

11M: FIFA 19, which is far more popular globally where it sold more than 11 million copies, sold roughly 1.2 million of those in the U.S. In comparison, NBA 2K19 and Madden NFL 19 were the two most popular sports video games, each selling roughly 2.8 million copies across the two platforms in the U.S. MLB The Show 18, despite only being available on Playstation 4, sold almost 800,000 copies.

$9M: On average NBA players earn an annual salary of $9M. This is up from $250k. Many believe that former NBA commissioner David Stern, who has been hospitalized this week, played a critical role there during his tenure.

9M: Currently, it is estimated that there are nine million UK Prime subscribers. The renewed push to add new subscribers is also aiding Amazon in its fight with Netflix, which has an estimated 11.3 million subscribers in the UK. Amazon Prime is currently making a significant push into English soccer, a move that is expected to change the landscape for major United Kingdom broadcasters.

330k: iFit, the company has 330,000 paying subscribers, adding 77,000 subscribers last quarter, according to the company. By comparison, Peloton has 500k paid customers.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots of The Week.

Most tweeted about sports team in 2019? Barcelona FC. According to Twitter, Barcelona FC beat Real Madrid in this metrics in 2019.

The Most Tweeted About Female Athletes:

  1. Megan Rapinoe
  2. Serena Williams
  3. Naomi Osaka
  4. Alex Morgan
  5. Simone Biles
  6. Becky Lynch
  7. Marta
  8. Ronda Rousey
  9. Maria Sharapova
  10. Katelyn Ohashi

The Most Tweeted About Male Athletes:

  1. Neymar
  2. Lionel Messi
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo
  4. LeBron James
  5. Kawhi Leonard
  6. Kobe Bryant
  7. Tom Brady
  8. Kylian Mbappe
  9. Keisuke Honda
  10. Antonio Brown

New blockbuster movie starring PSG stars. Here is the drawing that an artist put together. One can appreciate the creativity there.

💉 Analysis: AI takes on doping

💉 Analysis: AI takes on doping

Doping by professional athletes has been acknowledged as a problem since at least the 1960s. Since then, a number of global initiatives have been implemented in order to prevent doping in sports, starting with the creation in 1972 of the steroid and drug testing policy by the International Olympic Committee. The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) was also created in 1999. Then in 2004 the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 was passed in the US, expanding the list of prohibited substances.

Picture: WADA

In the recent years, despite those major initiatives, doping issues gained prominence as a result of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) investigation, tell-alls by former professional athletes, a 2007 report on drugs in professional baseball and a scandal involving Russia’s 2014 Olympic team.

That being said, over the past few years the latest advancements in the world of AI are bringing new opportunities in order to better address doping issues in the world of elite sports. The recent partnerships between WADA and the Montreal based startup Dataperformers and Element AI, perfectly illustrate this new trend. We will get into that in greater details in the upcoming sections.

What are the most common types of performance enhancing drugs?

As shown in the table below, there are several types of performance-enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids, stimulants, human growth hormone, Erythropoietin (EPO), Tetrahydrogestrinone (THG or the Clear), and diuretics, and gene therapy.

Anabolic steroids are natural and synthetic substances which help build muscle mass, enabling athletes to train harder and recover quickly from strenuous workouts.

Tetrahydrogestrinone, also known as THG or the Clear, is a steroid purportedly used by such high profile athletes as track star Marion Jones and baseball player Barry Bonds.

EPO, also known as blood doping, is a peptide hormone that is produced naturally by the human body. EPO is released from the kidneys and acts on the bone marrow to stimulate red blood cell production. An increase in red blood cells improves the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the body’s muscles. It may also increase the body’s capacity to buffer lactic acid.

Stimulants, including amphetamines, impact the central nervous system, increasing alertness and decreasing appetite.

Human growth hormone (HGH) is taken for improved endurance and strength.

Androstenedione is a supplement that was sold over-the-counter until the FDA took action in 2004. It is banned by the NFL, Olympics, NCAA and MLB. The supplement is an anabolic steroid precursor, meaning that the body converts it into testosterone.

Gene therapy, also known as gene doping, is another type of doping in sports. However, instead of injecting DNA into a person’s body for the purpose of restoring some function related to a damaged or missing gene, as in gene therapy, gene doping involves inserting DNA for the purpose of enhancing athletic performance.

913+ athletes sanctioned under steroid and drug testing policy since 1972

Since the implementation of the steroid and drug testing policy by the International Olympic Committee in 1972 there have been 913 documented athletes who were sanctioned under this policy for more than 1170 offenses.

More than half of sanctions (59%) were related to steroids and stimulants.

Steroids is the top substance used with 45% of offenses involving steroids while one in ten offenses involved the use of peptide hormones.

Other drugs have lower rates as may be specific only to a niche sport which is less popular or represented less in competitions such as blood transfusions related to diving.

Sprinting gathered the most sanctions

Sprinting gathered the most sanctions as it constantly requires athletes to push their limits further. Overall, more than half of events include running events or race walking.

events

Most biological passport anomalies were registered for distance running, marathon and race walk with 86% of cases confined to these events while more than half of sprinting offenses (51%) were related to use steroids and another 19% to the use of stimulants.

2 years ban is the most common sanction

With 522 out of total sanctions on all events documented receiving it, the sanction most often used in cases of doping is 2 years, applied in 48% of sanctions given (493 of athletes, 54% of them). Public warnings and / or loss of titles was applied in 72 (7%) of sanctioning cases (68 athletes, 7%) while 51(5%) sanctions were life ban (47 athletes, 5%) especially for repeated misdemeanours.

penalties

USA and Russia registered the highest number of offenses

As expected, due to their high number of competing athletes and substance availability, USA and Russia registered the highest number of offenses. Both countries were sanctioned mainly for the use of steroids. The only notable difference is that USA was making more use of stimulants while in Russia there were more biological passport abnormalities.

worldmap

Along steroids, France and Morocco got also sanctioned more for the use of Hormones.

Most biological passport anomalies were registered in Russia, felony surpassed only by the usage of steroids in this country. Russia also got the most sanctions in the Race walk events with 19% out of the total offenses for Russia and 47% for this event category.

Canada, UK, Nigeria and the US got sanctioned mainly on sprinting as compared to other events.

Morocco got sanctioned mostly for Long distance and Middle distance. Russia, and Morocco got sanctioned for Middle distance more than other countries. Belarus got sanctioned mostly on Shot put and Hammer throw.

Survey: 57% of world-class amateur athletes admitted using performance enhancing drugs.

A controversial study suggesting that doping in sport is far more prevalent than was found to be by conventional testing has finally been published after years of wrangling.

The research, based on anonymous surveys carried out at two elite athletics competitions in 2011, found that up to 57% of competitors admitted doping in the previous 12 months, a figure far surpassing the 1-2% identified by blood and urine tests carried out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and higher even than the 14% prevalence estimated from the athlete biological passport.

But the research, commissioned and funded by WADA, has taken almost six years to be officially published, despite the results being leaked to the New York Times in 2013 and later released in the UK under parliamentary privilege by the culture, media and sport committee on blood doping in athletics.

Major initiatives: WADA launching 3 AI projects with Dataperformer, Element AI and Centre for Genomics and Politics at McGill University in Montreal.

Back in May 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) announced a special request for applications for targeted research projects on the application and impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in the area of anti-doping.

By doing so, the WADA hope to roll out artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help catch drugs cheats within two years.

WADA believe that using AI technology computer systems that conduct tasks normally requiring human intelligence could help target tests far more effectively and ultimately catch more cheats.

Over 300,000 samples a year are analysed worldwide, but there remain huge concerns about the efficacy of testing.

As a result of this initiative, WADA and the Fonds de recherche du Québec (Québec research fund) announced in October 2019 that it has handed over funding to three separate projects that will explore the possible uses of AI in the fight against doping.

Dr Olivier Rabin, the senior director for sciences and international partnerships at WADA, said: “AI is an exciting area to be explored and WADA believes there is enormous untapped potential for its use within anti-doping, particularly when it comes to the analysis of big data. (…) “In time we think it could have a hugely positive impact.”

Dr Rabin added: “These three complementary projects will help shed some light on the extend of AI’s potential in the anti-doping context and we are pleased to be able to support what we hope will be important pieces of research.”

The first of these projects is with Dataperformersa company founded in Montreal, Canada in 2013, in collaboration with a WADA-accredited lab in Paris.

This research will explore the possibility of using AI to detect the use of prohibited substances and methods.

If successful, artificial intelligence could be used to analyze data collected through WADA’s athlete biological passport programme, which currently uses and ‘adaptive model’ algorithm to determine whether an unusual test result is the result of a normal physiological condition, or related to performance enhancing drugs.

“Athletes are smart in how they dope, you need to be smart in how you apply the anti-doping tests,” Rabin said. “Artificial intelligence will help us in the recommendation to test this particular athlete at this particular time to attempt to reveal doping.” Should the research projects prove as successful as hoped, Rabin says AI could be used within 18-24 months. “It’s going to help us focus on the suspicious data and the suspicious athletes’ profiles,” he added. 

It is well established that targeted testing is far more effective than random tests. But WADA still believe that not enough tests are genuinely targeted. Using AI could help them spot new patterns typical of dopers, assisting their investigations.

“We want to see the correlations that are unknown to us that may come out of this work,” Rabin said. “There is a correlation that we could find between some of the aspects of the suspicious profile and between the population of some of the athletes that we could identify as being doped, and we could not find in the population that you identify as being clean.

Dataperformers CEO and Co-founder Mehdi Merai further explains how AI can help find correlation between a large number of parameters to help detect suspicious profiles.

“I want to find the relationship or the impact between height, weight and the result of a sports performance. It is easily visible to a human. If I add a third parameter, we are still in the possible, but a fourth, a fifth, a sixth … a hundredth, that’s where we reached the limit. Our brain has difficulty understanding the relationship between a set of parameters and a scientific result’, explains Mr Merai.

Picture: Dataperformers team

Dataperformers CEO also believes that its AI solution could also be used to assess the risk of injuries of players over time.

“AI is an excellent tool to detect weak signals from a streamlined data coming from biometric sensors, historical performance, and visual data (movements analysis) (..) AI is able to detect anomalous data points that could be a signal regarding a high probability of injury risk. It acts like an biomedical advisor for the team managers that are able to continuously monitor all the players, from all the perspectives continuously. so, it lights the cognitive load of team managers that will use this time and energy for better cases such as strategy and more”, said Dataperformers CEO during an interview with The Upside.

The second project WADA is funding will be carried out by Element AI, also based in Montreal, which will explore the risk of doping in athletes through the technology and then develop a sampling and testing method based on algorithms.

Picture: Element AI team

Finally, the Centre for Genomics and Politics at McGill University in Montreal will look into how using AI to combat doping would be viewed by different stakeholders, in the hopes of guiding conversations between WADA, other anti-doping organisations, athletes and the public.

Chief scientist of Québec, Dr Rémi Quirion, said: “It is hoped through these three projects that we will raise the understanding of the impacts that AI could have on the fight against doping, both technologically and socially.”

Bottom line: We believe that we are at a point where advancements in AI can have a major impact on anti-doping efforts in the coming years. Companies like Dataperformers, and Element AI, are well positioned to become pioneers in this emerging space. Since all the world’s major sports federations (FIFA, ITF, FIBA, UCI, World Rugby…) are collaborating with WADA, we believe that over time AI could have a profound impact in the fight against doping in elite sports.

🧤 Latest innovation in VR? Smart gloves with biosensing….

🧤 Latest innovation in VR? Smart gloves with biosensing….

Dear Friends and Members,

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📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

👓 Teslasuit’s new VR gloves let you feel virtual objects and track your pulse

⌚  Amazfit Bip S to launch at CES 2020 – with three new wearables set to land

🎮  U.S. Navy sets sail for Esports

💸 Latest Investment Trends

📊 Tech Stats of the Week

📸 Snapshots of the Week

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories


🎮 AR/VR/Video Sports News

👓 Teslasuit’s new VR gloves let you feel virtual objects and track your pulse | Via: The Verge

Teslasuit — known for its full-body haptic feedback suit — is introducing a glove that can let users feel virtual textures and gather biometric data. The device is called simply the “Teslasuit Glove,” and it will debut at CES in January, with the goal of shipping by the second half of 2020.

Like the Teslasuit, the Teslasuit Glove is meant for training, medical rehabilitation, and other professional applications. It combines several different technologies to simultaneously create the impression of touching and holding objects, capture the motion of users’ hands, and record pulse and other biometric information. The gloves can also be paired with the suit over Wi-Fi to offer nearly full-body motion capture or haptic feedback for virtual reality.

Teslasuit is one of several haptics and motion control companies that launched during the mid-’10s VR boom, appealed initially to consumers, then shifted to business customers. It launched the suit on Kickstarter in 2016, but it canceled that campaign and officially announced its first product in 2018. It’s since demonstrated potential applications in astronaut training, emergency evacuation drill practice, and other simulation scenarios. The creators aren’t ruling out gaming and entertainment possibilities, but at around $5,000, the glove isn’t a home headset accessory.

The Teslasuit Glove will compete with existing products from companies like Manus VR and HaptX. While it doesn’t tout the hyper-fine feedback you can get from a device like HaptX’s glove, Teslasuit is seemingly distinguishing itself with a breadth of features. The gloves include basic haptic and force feedback capabilities: an array of nine electrodes on each finger produce the sensation of touching a nonexistent surface, while a plastic exoskeleton creates resistance and vibration to simulate interacting with solid objects.

On top of that, the gloves capture the motion of a user’s wrist and fingers. And they include a pulse oximeter that gathers information like the user’s heart rate — which can help indirectly measure stress and other physical reactions to experiences. This whole spread of features is similar to that of the Teslasuit, which gathers biometric and motion data and simulates physical feeling with electrical stimulation. Sadly, while Teslasuit says CES attendees can check out the suit, they can’t try the gloves yet — they’re still going through testing.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that this is a nice complement to Teslasuit’s smart suit. The smart glove and smart suit can create a unique VR experience. What’s unique about Teslasuit product is the ability to capture in real time the biometric data (HR, stress, impedance/hydration..) of users. We believe that this is the kind of VR training tool that could appeal to a large number of pro teams, especially as the price comes down over time. Players could use the smart glove and smart suit as part of their rehab and training process. Let’s not forget that this technology was initially built for Olympic athletes so it is a proven technology.


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚ Amazfit Bip S to launch at CES 2020 – with three new wearables set to land | Via: Wareable

Amazfit is to launch a follow up to its popular budget smartwatch – the Amazfit Bip S – which is set to be unveiled at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. The Big S is set to feature a lighter design according to the teaser tweet from the company – but beyond that we’re still guessing on details. An outline is shown – and the Bip S looks to stare the same design.

The original Bip which retails for just 50, still managed to pack in GPS – and a previous teaser image shows a definite fitness theme for Amazfit’s CES output.

This could mean that we see advanced fitness features – including ECG, VO2 Max or other fitness insights. Indeed, the Amazfit Stratos already taps into Firstbeat’s features – so it could filter down to its budget watches.
It’s part of a growing range of smartwatches for Amazfit, which launched the Amazfit GTS back at IFA 2019, which has a design, feature set and spec sheet closer to the Apple Watch. It also launched the Stratos 3 sports watch, which takes on top-end Garmin sports watches.

The Amazfit Bip S is one of three wearables promised in the Amazfit teaser – and as we mentioned, these seem t be part of a coherent fitness push.

The teaser shoes a wrist-based device, and what seems to be a pair of smart wireless buds – which would make sense given the aggressive demand for these devices.

The teaser image also seems to highlight the sneakers – and this could be a reimagining of the Amazfit Antelope smart shoes, some kind of footpod – or a red herring to throw us off entirely. It’s certainly not outside of the realms of possibility of a new pair of smart shoes emerging. As we’ve seen with Xiaomi devices, the Chinese market is predominantly the target for Huami – and the boom in fitness there means this sport focus is no surprise.

The event will be held on 7 January in Las Vegas – so we’ll get a full idea of what’s next for the company then.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that it makes a lot of sense for Huami, Xiaomi’s ODM, to introduce new wearables at CES 2020, to better address the mid-high end of the wearable market. As we noted earlier, those new wearables could include new biosensing capabilities (ECG, VO2 Max, blood pressure, hydration measurement). Huami could also potentially introduce new form factors (e.g. smart t-shirt, smart shoes with new capabilities). Ultimately these new products will help Huami/Xiaomi sustain its strong positioning in the wearable market.


🎮 eSports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮  U.S. Navy Sets Sail for Esports | Via: Front Office Sports

As the U.S. Navy heads into 2020, the service plans to torpedo its television advertising. Instead, it is floating all of its advertising money into digital, heavily focusing that around esports, according to the USNI News.

Two years ago, the Navy spent $20.2 million on television advertising. That represented about 45% of its total advertising budget, which was roughly $45 million. Much of that was focused behind its “Forged by the Sea” campaign, which featured during the 2017 Army-Navy football game.

In the year ahead, the service has set a $33 million advertising budget. However, that will not include rushing an ad campaign out ahead of the Super Bowl, or frankly, even any broadcast inventory – the Navy plans on spending $0 on television ads.

Instead, $33 million of that budget, or approximately 97% of it, will be spent on online advertising. Roughly $1 million will be spent on billboard and local radio station advertising.

That serious shift is the result of research that informed the Navy that its target audience of people between the ages of 17 and 28 years old are more likely to be reached online rather than via television.

“One thing we did learn, is paying for a lot of TV ads in the middle of Super Bowl games,” said Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke, according to USNI News. “ target audience is not watching that.”

That digital push will come with a focus on esports advertising. The Navy will become a prominent sponsor of esports events and will also field an all-Navy esports team made up of active-duty recruits, according to USNI News.

“Right now, it’s predominantly digital that’s bringing us better returns,” Burke said. “YouTube, five, ten, 15-second headers that repeat for the audience that shows interest in them, that turns into leads at call centers.”

The U.S. Navy said that reducing television advertising has had no adverse effect on its recruiting. In 2020, it is aiming to add about 5,100 people to its current force of 340,500 active-duty personnel.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that this is a great move by the US Navy to focus on esports as part of its recruitment efforts. eSports fans are a great match for the US Navy’s targeted demographics (17 to 28 years old). We expect other major brands (e.g. insurance companies, media companies, tech companies..) to increasingly focus their ad budget towards esports advertising. As a reminder the eSports market was expected to pass the $1B mark in terms of revenue last year. 


💸 Sports Investment (Fund raising, M&As) Trends — January, 2020

  • Seattle fitness startup Trainiac raises $2.2M to match people with personal trainers. Read on here.
  • VR startup HaptX raises $12M to develop next generation VR gloves. Read on here.

📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week

90.9K: The Dallas Cowboys were the top draw of the NFL season. The team averaged 90,929 fans per game, which is 90.9% of AT&T Stadium’s capacity.

The Cowboys were followed by (average attendance – capacity)

  • 2. New York Jets – 78,523 (95.2%)
  • 3. Green Bay Packers – 77,845 (95.6%)
  • 4. Denver Broncos – 75,937 (99.8%)
  • 5. New York Giants – 74,664 (90.5%)

Percentage-wise, the 49ers, Bears, Patriots, Vikings, Browns, Seahawks, Saints, and Eagles all drew more than 100% capacity of their respective venues.

85.6k: The sellout crowd at Cotton Bowl Stadium ranks as the second-largest for an NHL game in the league’s 102-year history.

$5978: With just one month to go until Super Bowl LIV, ticket prices are sitting at record highs. The current average resale price is $5,978 per ticket, according to data from SeatGeek based on ticket sales on its site.

6: The Patriots lost 13-20 against the Titans this weekend. So if this is the end, Tom Brady’s career stacks up as one of the greatest ever, with 6 Super Bowl, 4 Super bowl MVP titles, 3 regular season MVP titles, and more.

5%: Ratings for NFL games rose 5% in the 2019 regular season, averaging 16.5 million viewers per game, according to Nielsen data cited by the league. That makes it the most-watched season since 2016 when the league also averaged 16.5 million viewers, according to the NFL.

4: Vince Carter (Atlanta Hawks / NBA) has become the first player in NBA History to play in 4 decades.

-8.6M: Formula One TV audience drops by 8.6 million after move to paid-for Sky Sports.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

Drone show spotted in Shanghai. Chinese state media released video showing a spectacular “New Year’s Eve drone show” along Shanghai’s famous riverfront the Bund. But while the video was dated December 31, 2019, spectators who were on the Bund at the time of the countdown to 2020 said there were no drones in sight.EHang, one of China’s largest drone makers that managed the display, said the video was filmed earlier on December 28, 2019, for a show to be broadcast on a Shanghai TV station on New Year’s Eve.

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