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🏈 😷 👓 Latest Tech in Sports? NFL Oakley’s Face Shield Concept. VR training for Soccer.

🏈 😷 👓 Latest Tech in Sports? NFL Oakley’s Face Shield Concept. VR training for Soccer.

Dear Friends and Members,

Last week Real Madrid won another Laliga title after winning 10 straight games since Laliga season resumed. The MLS, EPL, Bundesliga seasons continued as well. Leo Messi picked up a record Seventh Pichichi as LaLiga’s top scorer with 25 goals. Formula One also recorded its first positive coronavirus tests since returning to racing at the beginning of July. Of note, F1 has conducted almost 14,000 coronavirus tests since this cycle of events started and on Friday recorded two positives.

In the world of AR/VR and digital, Harena announced Rezzil’s VR pro training and analytics for U.S. youth soccer. Google invested in Reliance Jio, which announced ‘Jio Glass’, a Mixed Reality Headset for 3D interactions. The F1 Federation also teamed up with Zoom. In the wearable and connected fitness world, Fitbit announced three new features on the Fitbit Charge 4. The NFL, in association with Oakley, also revealed a face shield concept to prevent coronavirus spread. Lastly LPGA also partnered with WHOOP.

Later this week we also plan to announce a major initiative which is the next phase of the Upside newsletter and will bring our community of 2500 sports tech, health (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, EPL, Laliga, Olympic teams…startups, VCs) closer. We also have new services and initiatives coming so stay tuned!

If you have any questions about The Upside, need help with business development or fund raising, want to join our community of thousands of sports and tech execs (pro teams, leagues, athletes, investors..), or want to have access to our premium content, please check out Sports Tech Advisors and contact us at info@sportstechadvisors.co

📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

👓 Harena brings Rezzil’s VR pro training and analytics to U.S. youth soccer

👓 Reliance Jio Announces ‘Jio Glass’, A Mixed Reality Headset For 3D Interactions

👓 F1 takes Paddock Club virtual in Zoom hospitality tie-up

⌚ Three new features land on Fitbit Charge 4 in update

⌚ Oakley, NFL reveal face shield concept to prevent coronavirus spread

⌚ LPGA to partner with WHOOP, supply players, caddies and staff with straps

🎮 Esports’ integration into media and betting

💸 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/Digital Sports News

👓 Harena brings Rezzil’s VR pro training and analytics to U.S. youth soccer | Via: VentureBeat

Professional soccer players have used the Rezzil virtual reality platform for mental and physical training off the field, including drills designed to improve their decision making and overall performance. Today, the U.K.-based company announced a partnership with esports company Harena Data to bring similar technologies to younger players in the United States, enabling kids to enjoy VR training and analytics — a good way to keep the young athletes moving even when they can’t face opponents due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rezzil’s program includes a collection of short, measurable drills that let kids kick a virtual ball, gathering information from thousands of data points as they naturally interact with virtual scenarios, including extreme game pressure simulations or gentler practice sessions. The system then assesses the player’s cognitive abilities, wellness, and skill level, which coaches can use over time to create “mentally resilient players” in the same mold as pro athletes.

For Harena, which already works with U.S.-based youth soccer associations, the platform means further expansion beyond its base of GYO Score esports and gaming data analytics customers into a more physical — though in this case, also virtual — space. It’s a smaller shift for Rezzil, which bills itself as a platform used in nine countries at every level of soccer from grassroots and educational play to European League and World Cup winners. Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Nike, and Adidas are just a few of the major names that already use Rezzil. One hiccup: The system isn’t meant for use at home, and it requires both a PC-based Vive VR setup and external tracking cameras, which is to say that young players should expect to use it as part of their team training, not individually. Organizations interested in the Rezzil solution can contact Harena here.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that this is a good move by Rezzil and Harena. Rezzil is already a leading player in the VR training world for soccer as Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Nike, and Adidas are among Rezzil’s customers. We think there is great potential for VR training in soccer. Historically VR training systems have been used by NFL, NBA, NHL teams. To learn more about VR training systems or VR in sports in general please check out our VR sports market analysis here.

👓 Reliance Jio Announces ‘Jio Glass’, A Mixed Reality Headset For 3D Interactions | Via: Mashable

Reliance Industries Limited recently announced the Jio Glass – a mixed reality headset at its virtual Annual General Meet 2020 that will allow users to have an immersive virtual experience using 3D avatars. Jio glass comes with a cable that can be attached to your phone and be connected to the internet. It weighs 75 grams and Jio has paid special attention to the graphics, ensuring that users get highest class visual experience. For audio, there’s a special and personalized audio system on the Jio Glass without any accessories attached to it. The audio system supports all the standard audio formats. Jio Glass supports over 25 applications and is great for attending office meetings, education purposes, etc.

So, you could be sitting at home and join a meeting with your colleagues in your office using Jio glass. It lets you attend these meetings in three-dimension where the other person can be seen in the form of a 3D avatar. Jio Glass offers smooth collaboration across devices and platforms to ensure you stay connected no matter where you are. You can also share presentations that can be viewed and presented on a large virtual screen in a virtual environment. People can also join in the call through a 2D video call format. Official Reliance Jio account mentioned on Twitter, “Jio Glass is making teachers and students come together in 3D virtual rooms and conduct holographic classes through their Jio Mixed Reality cloud in real-time. With JioGlass, the traditional way of learning Geography will now be History”.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that this is a good move by Jio to jump into the MR glasses space. We find the form factor of the Jio glasses appealing. Google also announced this week that it will invest $4.5B into the Jio platform, which will help Jio scale, and deliver on its roadmap. That being said it remains to be seen if Jio has what it takes to take share away from Microsoft in the MR space. Jio is also an unknown brand in big markets like the US. It is also unclear what the retail price of the Jio glasses will be which will be a key element of success.

Picture: Jio

👓 F1 takes Paddock Club virtual in Zoom hospitality tie-up | Via: SportBusiness

Formula 1 has signed a new digital deal with Zoom Video Communications to enable the roll out of virtual Paddock Club experiences during the motor-racing championship’s Covid-19-affected 2020 season. Due to the ongoing pandemic, F1’s first eight races are without the traditional in-person hospitality offerings. Hospitality is a key component of the F1 experience and business model, with the Paddock Club providing $358m (€314.1m) of its $2bn in revenue for 2019, so the companies have partnered to create a bespoke virtual hospitality experience for guests.

At the second race of the 2020 season, last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, guests joined the Virtual Paddock Club, through Zoom, and were afforded a range of experiences, including live updates and insight from legends of the paddock. Additional experiences will also be created from this weekend’s Hungarian GP onwards, in line with International Automobile Federation (FIA) regulations. The US technology company will provide an exclusive experience throughout the eight-race European season, and in addition, F1 will look to work with Zoom to expand the Virtual Paddock Club offering to its global partners and teams. The deal has been brokered by CAA Sports, F1’s exclusive sales agency and is initially intended to run through the 2020 season. Paddock Club tickets cost $3,800 for two days at European races. The Financial Times newspaper reported that the six-figure Zoom deal will not replace lost Paddock Club revenues, with F1 having no immediate plans to charge for the virtual events. Ben Pincus, director of commercial partnerships at F1, said: “We understood the opportunity Zoom presented to us, which was about delivering a live sporting experience for guests despite the fact much of sport is currently behind closed doors.

“Zoom by its very nature is about enabling and connecting businesses remotely and this partnership, which has been developed virtually, is an example of just that. We hope this will be the first of many innovations we roll out in the coming months for our partners. (..) Over the past few months, through Project Pitlane and Virtual Grand Prix races, we have seen the ability to innovate is imperative as we collectively adapt to an environment that continues to evolve.”

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that this is a great move by both Zoom and the F1 Federation. It will enable the F1 Federation to enhance the fans experience, drive additional revenues. For Zoom it will help the video collaboration platform drive the popularity of its platform. Zoom has seen a huge growth in the past few months and has now 200M+ users globally. Overall this type of partnership is part of leagues’s overall strategy to keep fans stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can check out our analysis on technologies that can help teams and leagues during COVID-19 pandemic here.

Picture: Zoom


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚ Three new features land on Fitbit Charge 4 in update | Via: Wearable

A new update for the Fitbit Charge 4 is rolling out that’s bringing a bunch of new features to the fitness tracker. The first major update to the Charge 4 sees a Smart Wake feature land, which wakes you at the optimal part of your sleep cycle, rather than at a specific time. It’s a feature we’ve seen on various devices for a long time. The idea is that you set the latest alarm possible, and your Fitbit will try and find a period of light sleep in the preceding 30 minutes to wake you. The idea is that you’ll wake more easily and without that feeling of morning grogginess. The idea has been around since the dawn of fitness trackers, and Fitbit’s nemesis Jawbone included it on its devices back in 2014. However, the accuracy of sleep tracking via heart rate, tracking of sleep stages make this far less reliant on guesswork – thus more likely to be effective. Fitbit sleep tracking is some of the best in the business, so this is a great way of leveraging it.

The Fitbit Charge 4 has also received dynamic GPS in the latest update, which means the ability to use Connected GPS from a smartphone as well as the built-in GPS on the device itself. This is an interesting addition because the Charge 3 only used Connected GPS. The main benefit to users is more control over battery life, and Connected GPS is much kinder to the longevity of the fitness tracker itself. That’s going to be good news for users, because we found that GPS tracking on Charge 4 would only last a couple of hours. However, accuracy of Connected GPS can be hit and miss. The final new feature offers more control over the screen wake time. You can now have the screen stay illuminated for longer, which can be useful for workouts if you want the screen to me more easily glanceable. The update is rolling out now, so if you have a Fitbit Charge 4 it should be with you soon.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that these are good incremental features for the Fitbit Charge 4. It will help enhance the user experience. But will it help Fitbit drive its market share? It is unlikely. What Fitbit needs to do is to focus on adding new biosensing capabilities (e.g. hydration, BP monitoring..) to be able to take share away from Apple in the wearable fitness space.

⌚ Oakley, NFL reveal face shield concept to prevent coronavirus spread | Via: CBS Sport

In the name of health and safety, NFL players could be sporting a whole new look in 2020. The Oakley Mouth Shield — a product designed by Oakley in collaboration with doctors and engineers from the NFL and NFL Players Association to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus on the field of play — is expected to be distributed to all 32 teams over the next week, when it will receive a test drive on a much larger scale than it has gotten to date. Safety protocol negotiations are ongoing between the league and players. Currently, there is no mandate to wear a face shield, but the NFL’s medical experts are advocating for the use of the protective equipment.

“That’s certainly what we’re going to encourage,” said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer. “And we hope that we’re going to land on a product design that’s something that everyone would want to wear, because they’ll see the value and want that additional protection without any detriment to performance.”

The Oakley Mouth Shield is expected to be distributed to all 32 teams over the next week, when it will receive a test drive on a much larger scale than it has gotten to date.NFL The Oakley Prizm Lens Technology used by skiers, military personnel and, most recently, NFL players for enhanced color and contrast in their visors is featured in the new design. Plastic sheets extend down and attach to the face guard. There are airways and openings on the mouth shield but none that allow the direct transmission of droplets, according to the chair of the NFL’s engineering committee, Dr. Jeff Crandall. The mouth shield has already been distributed to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers — two teams close to Oakley’s home base — per NFLPA medical director Dr. Thom Mayer, and has also been sent to various player representatives and equipment managers for feedback. Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon debate how players will react to the NFL’s new face shields used to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’ve only had it on a few players — we have 2,500 players in the league — but I was surprised that … claustrophobia has not been an issue yet,” he said. “I think it will be when we [have more players testing them].”

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe this is a good move by both the NFL and Oakley. NFL is one of the most physical sports where there are lots of contacts during games. Will that be enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when NFL games resume? It remains to be seen but the NFL is trying to find solutions which is good news. Oakley is well positioned there to help the NFL build a great product that help address this need.

Picture: NFL

⌚ LPGA to partner with WHOOP, supply players, caddies and staff with straps | Via: golf.com

The LPGA Tour is set to make its grand return to golf on July 31 at the Inverness Club. Similar to the PGA Tour’s return, there are a lot of questions surrounding the LPGA’s restart, including how it plans to keep players, caddies and staff safe and maintain the “bubble.” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan addressed some of these concerns during a press conference on Wednesday.

Enter WHOOP, which now has a deal with the LPGA, Symetra Tour and Ladies European Tour. The tours will procure 1,000 WHOOP straps for players, caddies and staff. The partnership is similar to that of the PGA Tour. PGA Tour players, namely Nick Watney, have seen success in using WHOOP data to help determine if they have been compromised by coronavirus. Watney, the first player to test positive on the PGA Tour, used his low overnight respiratory rate and recovery data as an indication he should get tested. Following Watney’s positive test, the Tour officially partnered with WHOOP to supply bands to all its players and caddies.

Following the PGA Tour’s announcement regarding its partnership with WHOOP, several LPGA players were vocal on social media about getting a similar system in place for their return.  During the Wednesday call, Whan also said the LPGA Tour is hoping to host fans and pro-ams starting with the second tournament on the schedule. This partnership with WHOOP could help make that hope a reality, especially with daily data that can aid in early detection of coronavirus cases.  Whan also detailed the LPGA’s plans for a safe return, with protocols mirroring those already rolled out on the PGA Tour. The LPGA’s final decision on fans and pro-ams is expected to come next week.

⬆️ The Upside:  We think this is a good move by the LGPA to help detect early signs of COVID-19. The Whoop band can detect and measure sleep quality and HRV which are key metrics when trying to detect COVID-19 at early stage. LGPA is not the first league or Player association to partner with Whoop. Whoop already teamed up with the NFLPA and teams (Duke..) and many NBA, MLB players have used the Whoop band to monitor their health.


🎮 Esports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮 Esports’ integration into media and betting | Via: InsiderSport

Esports has become a hot topic ever since it rose to prominence in mainstream media. The topic has branched through every industry in the business sector and at CasinoBeats’ Malta Digital event, which highlights the countries growing opportunities in the world of iGaming, the popularity of esports and its sustained impact was raised again. During CasinoBeats’ ‘Malta: The esports opportunity’ panel, Eirik Kristiansen, the CEO of esportsbook Pixelbet, highlighted the growth of competitive gaming in recent years.

“Norway hasn’t really been at the forefront of the esports evolution especially with a neighbouring country like Sweden which is quite far ahead,” stated Kristiansen. “But in the recent couple of years we have seen a clear uptick there. (..) Esports is sort of becoming a part of different nations, they take pride in the young athletes that take part in different types of esports. Everything between FPS (first person shooter) to mobile, it doesn’t really matter. Finally you can see the countries embrace their athletes as well. (..) Now esports is a real contender and it’s respected all around the world.”

Due to esports’ upsurge in popularity, given the recent postponement and cancellation of sporting events, betting sites and broadcasters specifically turned to competitive gaming to fill its catalogue. This has led to a large increase in esport betting, particularly for sports centric titles such as FIFA and NBA2K.  Speaking about how the global health pandemic has affected esports betting, Stepan Shu, Head of Esports, Parimatch said: “We are discovering a lot of interest in esport games that are very similar to their sports. I even try to tell everybody right now that I’m trying to separate endemic esports, like Dota 2, CS:GO and League of Legends, and simulation. A lot of folks are very interested in FIFA, NBA2K and other stuff like this.”

“People at the age of 24 and under, they will switch into esports much more efficiently than older guys. They understand what esports are and for them so for them it’s not a problem just to switch and try to make bets for esports. Everything is growing, I cannot say it’s something unique but of course people are pushed into lockdown, they see a lot of stuff on Twitch and they made a bit more bets than before. So, we have increased in volume more than 20 per cent.”  

⬆️ The Upside: This should not come as a surprise to see esport betting on the rise due to COVID-19. Fans cannot attend esports arena to watch esport tournament and sports betting is another way for fans to take advantage of the growing popularity of the world of esport. In fact, in a recent study, gaming research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimated that the esports gambling market would reach $13 billion by 2020.


💸 Sports Tech & Health Investment (Fund raising, M&As) Trends — July 2020


📊 Key Tech & Biz Sports Stats of The Week

$40M: Without fall sports, Iowa State Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard estimates the department would incur approximately $40 million in unfunded expenses, including staff salaries and scholarships. The athletic department’s annual budget is $86 million, and the school as a whole is facing $73 million in revenue losses and costs related to COVID-19 thus far.

$10.4M: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are preparing its stadium for football fans after receiving $10.4 million in federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The funds could be used for more than 40 modifications “in order to open to the public,” if approved by the Hillsborough County Commissioner.

10M: Sony will make 10 million Playstation 5 units this year, doubling the initial projections for its new console due for release this fall. The boost in production comes as a result of the added demand for the next-generation console during the COVID-19 pandemic and an overall rise of interest in video games.

40K: ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’ helped StockX sell 40,000 pairs of “Flint” Air Jordan 13 sneakers in June, the latest success for the sneaker, collectible, and apparel marketplace. StockX reported “double-digit gains” in search interest following coronavirus pandemic-related lockdowns in March according to its mid-year report despite average consumer brand interest dropping 9%, according to Cowen Equity Research. In total, StockX has now surpassed $2.5 billion in lifetime gross merchandise value.

10K: OverActive Media is planning an esports arena in Toronto that would have up to 10,000 seats. The arena would be built at Exhibition Place, near BMO Field, and be home to OverActive’s Toronto-based Overwatch and Call of Duty teams.

50x: Samsung said in a whitepaper that 6G, the still-in-development successor to the 5G connectivity standard, could be ready to be deployed as early as 2028. The company predicts that 6G could offer 50x the data transfer rates of 5G, supporting applications like mobile holograms and better virtual reality.

40%: Sports betting is showing signs of an uptick as live sports return. New Jersey’s sports betting handle jumped 40% in June compared to May. The state’s $165 million handle in June was also triple that of April’s $54.6 million, when sports across the globe had all but stopped.

11: 11 titles in 209 games as Real Madrid manager. It’s what Zinedine Zidane does

7: Leo Messi picked up a record Seventh Pichichi as LaLiga’s top scorer with 25 goals.

2: 2 years ago, France won the Soccer World Cup in Russia in 2018.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

Hala Madrid. Real Madrid are Kings of Spain once again.

US Soccer Players Can Be Collected, Traded in Tokenized Fantasy Game

US Soccer Players Can Be Collected, Traded in Tokenized Fantasy Game

Major League Soccer (MLS) fans will now be able to collect and trade digital cards representing league players and use them to play fantasy soccer games run by the firm Sorare.  The MLS Players Association and OneTeam Partners, the athletes’ licensing rights firm, announced Tuesday they had signed a licensing agreement with the blockchain-enabled collectibles platform. The U.S. deal comes fresh on the heels of an auction for Italian soccer club Juventus that fetched 59 ether (ETH), or $13,470, for the team’s star player, Cristiano Ronaldo. According to the release, the agreement will bring over 700 MLS players onto Sorare’s platform, which currently includes players from the South Korean K League and teams including Juventus, Napoli and Lyon. The announcement comes a little over a week before MLS players hit the field again for a special tournament at Disney World in Florida. The MLS season was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the special tournament, dubbed “MLS Is Back,” kicks off July 8.

Sorare generates unique digital trading cards on the Ethereum blockchain which represent players and can be traded by users. The user plays as the manager of the team and upon joining is given a random set of five cards, which they can use to build a team and participate in weekly league competitions.  Users also have the option to buy tokens for other players to improve their team and – depending on how the soccer players perform in real life – they may receive rewards in more trading cards or ETH.

“We are excited to be a part of giving fans the opportunity to engage with their favorite players in a new digital landscape,” said Dan Jones, COO of the MLS Players Association, in the emailed statement. 

According to Sorare CEO Nicolas Julia, the firm’s platform currently has about 3,500 monthly active users and recorded over $350,000 in sales for June. “Sorare has been growing consistently despite the lack of football during the crisis,” Julia said.

Overall, blockchain-enabled gaming also seems to have gained in popularity as screen times went up around the world during the coronavirus pandemic. Data collected by blockchain gaming database NonFungible shows Sorare’s platform has recently climbed to the top spot in weekly transaction volume. In terms of all-time volume, CryptoKitties and Decentraland are the top-ranked games.

⬆️ The Upside: We think this is a good move by the MLS. It will enable MLS teams to generate incremental revenue which is well needed given the current COVID-19 pandemic. Plus there has been a growing interest for blockchain based solutions. With that in mind, we expect to see more sports leagues follow the footsteps of the MLS in the coming months. If you are interested in blockchain market, you can check out our latest analysis: Sports blockchain market.

Picture: MLS stadium

 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: new pictures leak and release date news

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: new pictures leak and release date news

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is nearly official, and Samsung is set to update its smartwatch range with its biggest update yet. To catch you up, Samsung’s next smartwatch has widely leaked, and looks set to be called the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. No, you didn’t miss a generation, but it looks like Samsung will skip on to Watch 3 to avoid confusion with the Galaxy Watch Active 2. But it’s still unclear when we will see a release date for the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, and there are conflicting reports.

Initial suspicions was that it would arrive at the Galaxy Note Unpacked event on 5 August. However, Tizenhelp has since reported that the smartwatch may gets its own reveal on 22 July. There’s no credible source for either of these – so watch this space. We’ve been writing about the Galaxy Watch 3 since the first rumors emerged, so here we’ve collated every piece of confirmed information, every leak and every rumor together into one place. We know that the new Galaxy Watch is set to shrink in size to 41mm and 45mm case sizes, packs in GPS, heart rate. From the FCC filings we have a pretty clear idea of the main features of the Galaxy Watch 3. There’s alleged to be a 360×360 OLED screen, which we’re expecting to really pack a punch as Samsung wearables always do. The smartwatch will feature GPS built in for the accurate tracking of outdoor workouts, such as running and cycling. GPS is also required to get biometric data such as VO2 Max. One of the favourite features of the original Galaxy Watch was the rotating bezel used to for tactile control of the circular Tizen interface.

The battery inside is a 247 mAh for the 41mm version and a bigger 340 mAh one for the 45mm.

⬆️ The Upside:  As we noted before, the Galaxy Watch 3 does not seem to offer much surprises so far. It is also still unclear which new features the watch will offer to differentiate itself from its predecessors. Will the Galaxy Watch 3 support Blood pressure monitoring or hydration measurement? These are some of the key questions that still need to be answered. It will be critical for Samsung to offer highly differentiated features to continue to compete against Apple in the long run.

Picture: Samsung

Formula 1® and Zoom Announce First Virtual Paddock Club Partnership

Formula 1® and Zoom Announce First Virtual Paddock Club Partnership

Today we jointly announced with Formula 1® our new digital partnership to deliver the first-ever virtual Paddock Club, unique live-sport experiences, ahead of the FORMULA 1® ARAMCO MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2020 Budapest.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the first eight F1® races are without the traditional in-person hospitality offerings. Hospitality is a key component of the F1® experience, so our companies partnered to create a bespoke virtual hospitality experience for guests. Across the past race weekend, guests joined the Virtual Paddock Club, through Zoom, and were treated to a range of experiences, including live updates and insight from legends of the paddock.

Additional experiences will also be created, in-line with the FIA’s regulations, at future races. Zoom will provide an exclusive experience throughout the eight-race European season, and in addition, F1® will look to work with us to expand the Virtual Paddock Club offering to its Global Partners and F1® Teams.

Ben Pincus, F1® Sponsorship Director, said:

“We understood the opportunity Zoom presented to us, which was about delivering a live sporting experience for guests despite the fact much of sport is currently behind closed doors. Zoom by its very nature is about enabling and connecting businesses remotely and this partnership, which has been developed virtually, is an example of just that. We are excited to work with Zoom to continue to connect businesses and their VIPs through this virtual hospitality experience. We hope this will be the first of many innovations we roll out in the coming months for our partners. Over the past few months, through Project Pitlane and Virtual Grand Prix races, we have seen the ability to innovate is imperative as we collectively adapt to an environment that continues to evolve.”

Janine Pelosi, Zoom’s CMO, added:

“We at Zoom are thrilled to kick off the Virtual Paddock Club with Formula 1®. During this challenging time, organizations such as Formula 1 still need to provide engaging experiences for fans and enterprises need to offer unique opportunities for their top prospects, and Zoom is here to help. The Virtual Paddock Club is the best way to recreate that VIP sports experience from home. Long run, there’s an opportunity for a hybrid virtual/in-person model so distance is no longer a barrier to sports hospitality.”

Our thanks to CAA Sports for helping to facilitate this partnership through its global representation of F1®.

👓 MLS & NBA Players Report to Orlando,FL. Google Buys North for $180M. Lululemon Acquires Mirror for $500M.

👓 MLS & NBA Players Report to Orlando,FL. Google Buys North for $180M. Lululemon Acquires Mirror for $500M.

Dear Friends and Members,

We hope that those of you located in the US spent a great 4th of July weekend. Last week MLS and NBA teams reported to Orlando FL to get ready to resume their respective competitions in July. The reality there is that players and coaches staff are being isolated and have to respect the social distancing protocol. It is the new norm in the world of COVID-19 we are living in but that is necessary to make sure that players and coaching staff are safe. Some players (e.g. MLS) have already tested positive to COVID-19 which is a reminder that even with all the proper measures there is always a risk.

In fact, since MLS training started in early June, +26 people connected to the MLS, including 18 players, have already tested positive to COVID-19. 668 MLS players have been tested for COVID-19, with a 2.7% positive test rate. The NBA, on the other end, recorded a 5.3% positive test rate when it announced its latest COVID-19 test results last Friday. Of the 302 NBA players tested, 16 tested positives. Lastly, the NHL has tested 250 players at club training facilities more than 1,450 times in total, with 15 players returning positive results.

On the social justice front, the Washington Redskins (NFL) and Indians (MLB) are looking into potential change their respective names. In addition, when the NBA resumes the season in Orlando, players will reportedly be allowed to replace their last names with statements on social justice. Most Formula 1 drivers also joined a ‘take a knee’ protest ahead of the start of the Austrian Grand Prix. The 20-strong field all wore black T-shirts, most with the messages ‘end racism’ across the front, while Lewis Hamilton‘s sported the ‘black lives matter’ slogan.

In the world of AR/VR and digital, Google bought AR glasses startup North for a reported $180M while Facebook revealed holographic optics for thin and light VR headsets. In the wearable and connected fitness world, Polar unveiled a new smartwatch, Garmin acquired algorithm startup FirstBeat and some new details on the Samsung Watch 3 got leaked. Lululemon also acquired connected fitness startup Mirror for $500M. In the world of esport, Everton announced ‘eFriendly’ initiative with Inter Miami CF.

If you have any questions about The Upside, need help with business development or fund raising, want to join our community of thousands of sports and tech execs (pro teams, leagues, athletes, investors..), or want to have access to our premium content, please check out Sports Tech Advisors and contact us at info@sportstechadvisors.co

📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week 

👓 Google Buys Smart-Glasses Maker North For A Reported $180M

👓Facebook reveals holographic optics for thin and light VR headsets

⌚ Polar Unite is a bargain sports watch – with one major omission

⌚ Here’s our first look at the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 smartwatch

⌚ Lululemon set to acquire home fitness startup Mirror for $500M

⌚ Why Garmin buying Firstbeat is big news for sports watches

🎮 Everton announces ‘eFriendly’ initiative with Inter Miami CF

💸 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/Digital Sports News

👓 Google Buys Smart-Glasses Maker North For A Reported $180M | Via: PYMNTS.COM

Google’s parent, Alphabet Inc., confirmed on Tuesday (June 30) that it has purchased North, the Canadian startup best known for Focals, its $600 smart glasses. Terms were not disclosed, but The Globe and Mail reported the deal was worth about $180 million.

“North’s technical expertise will help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and ambient computing future,” Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of devices and services, wrote on the company’s blog.

He said Google is building toward a future where all devices just work together and technology fades into the background. “We call this ambient computing,” Osterloh wrote. For North’s employees, it won’t be much of an inconvenience. They’ll join the Google team in Canada’s Twin Cities, Kitchener-Waterloo, North’s hometown, Osterloh wrote. North Co-founders Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey and Aaron Grant said the acquisition is a good fit and, importantly, they’re staying in Kitchener-Waterloo.

“Over the last while, it became clear that aligning with Google would significantly advance our shared vision,” they wrote on North’s blog. “We are looking forward to remaining in the region with Google.”

Despite dropping the price of its Focals to $600 last year from the original $1,000, North had reportedly sold very few pairs, The Globe and Mail reported. A source told them it was unlikely that the company sold more than 1,000 pairs since its launch in late 2018. Focals is an augmented reality (AR) device that supports notifications from Android devices. Compared to Google Glass, North’s smart glasses let Android users access any actions in their phone’s notification center, such as answering emails, retweeting and getting play-by-play sports updates. When Google Glass launched in 2013, the expensive device was glitchy, had a short battery life and was described by some as “dorky looking.” Google Glass was later abandoned by Google. But the report noted that just because something didn’t work six years ago doesn’t mean it can never succeed. North is convinced that its smart specs deserve a second run at greatness.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that this is a good move by Google. It is also a indication that Google will be focusing its effort on the AR consumer space again. They could leverage North’s patent and engineering team to offer sunglasses types AR glasses in the future similar to the North glasses. For North it should not come as a surprise to see the company being bought out as North laid off 40% of its staff a few months ago. Google is a good match as it has solid financial resources and can bring North’s consumer AR glasses to the masses.

Picture: North’s Focal AR glasses

👓 Facebook reveals holographic optics for thin and light VR headsets | Via: VentureBeat

Today’s virtual reality headsets are universally big — closer to goggles than glasses, and even then, larger and heavier than modern ski goggles. While Facebook has shown prototypes of bigger and more complex Oculus VR headsets, it’s made no secret of its interest in creating lightweight models that can be worn all day. Now it’s revealing a holographic optical architecture designed for thinner, lighter VR headsets, which it expects will appear in future “high performance AR/VR” devices. Discussed in a Siggraph 2020 research paper titled “Holographic Optics for Thin and Lightweight Virtual Reality,” the system uses flat films to create a VR display only slightly thicker than today’s typical smartphones. Facebook’s “pancake optics” design combines several thin layers of holographic film with a laser projection system and directional backlights, delivering either flat imagery or volumetric holograms depending on the sophistication of the design. Depending on how many color, lighting, and alignment-enhancing components a prototype contains, the thickness of the optical system can range from 11mm to just under 9mm.

There’s one major caveat: The technology isn’t ready for near-term deployment. As of now, Facebook’s researchers have three prototypes, including a full-color display that’s mounted on a test bench rather than wearable, and two wearable prototypes that deliver green-on-black imagery in either moving or static form. All of the prototypes use laser LCD illumination systems, and the three-laser full color prototype exhibits shimmering speckles, requiring a despeckler that’s fine for static images but leaves color noise when displaying dynamic content. In addition to developing a more performant custom despeckler, the researchers say that they could deliver a wearable full-color prototype by adding either a holographic backlight or lens, but need more engineering work to get to that point. At this stage, the researchers believe that the system comes closer to delivering a viable lightweight VR solution than Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 and Magic Leap 1, which are limited by roughly 40-degree fields of view, far less than is necessary to fill the eye with digital content. Over time, Facebook’s goal is to deliver both resolution matching normal human vision and a large viewing eye box so that eyes can rotate to see content rather than just staring forward at a small window. The headset could be used for everything from office productivity — displaying a virtual computer and other tools — to Facebook-powered social interactions and games.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that this is part of Zuckerberg’s vision to offer some slim hybrid AR/VR AR glasses in the coming years to help bring AR glasses to the masses. But there is still a way to go before seeing this product commercialized. Of note, Facebook will face fierce competition there as there are other companies working on holographic optical systems for mixed reality applications. For example, Apple-acquired company Akonia was working on solutions years ago, and has sought to patent a retinal hologram projector system among other XR display technologies. U.K. startup WaveOptics is another player, backed by China’s Goertek, while Samsung and Sony have backed a thin film holographic waveguide display from DigiLens. As an alternative, Germany’s Fraunhofer has developed microdisplays that are much smaller than traditional VR screens and can be brought closer to the user’s eyes, reducing the optical system’s volume by 75% and weight by 50%. At the end of the day, this is all good news for consumers.

Picture: Facebook


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚ Polar Unite is a bargain sports watch – with one major omission | Via: Wearable

Polar has announced a new budget fitness watch – the Polar Unite – which aims to offer insights for workout and functional fitness fans, but not runners. At just £134.50 it looks an absolute bargain, but there is a catch: the Polar Unite does not pack GPS, and is simply designed as a partner for those wanting to focus on the effectiveness and performance of gym and all-body workouts, with a focus on recovery. The Polar Unite fits right into the mold of the Polar Vantage M and Polar Ignite, with sporty straps, a thin and light build and plastic construction.

It weighs 32 grams, so it will be pretty unnoticeable on the wrist, and uses the 43mm case size of the Ignite. That’s around the same weight as most fitness bands, such as the Fitbit Charge 4. It also packs in a bigger 174mAh battery than the Ignite, although lasts a day less in smartwatch mode. It essentially takes many of the features of the Polar Ignite, so Fitspark makes up a big part of the Unite’s feature set.

Fitspark is Polar’s fitness coaching system, which adapts your schedule to your physiological wellbeing, recovery and needs, as well as offering on-watch guidance through workouts. You’ll find that on the Polar Unite, as well as the recovery metrics you need. You’ll get data such as the time spend in heart rate zones, calories burned and the strain on your cardiovascular system, so you can recover properly. While there’s no GPS built-in, the Unite will use your phone’s if you take it with you. This is called Connected GPS, and is very much a personal choice whether this suits your needs. Many will take their phone for music/safety so it makes little difference. However, due to the placement of your phone about your person, we found that connected GPS data is less reliable than dedicated GPS from the wrist. Polar claims four days in watch mode with continuous heart rate tracking, and up to 50 hours in training mode with connected GPS – although there’s no way your smartphone will make it that long. The Polar Unite tracks sleep with sleep stages, makes use of the Nightly Recharge feature found on Ignite and the Polar Grit X, which monitors your autonomic nervous system (ANS) recovery. There’s also a fitness test, 24/7 heart rate monitoring (as you’d expect) and Serene – a breathing and guided mindfulness feature. For the price, the Polar Unite looks like a solid fitness watch, but just as we couldn’t endorse the Suunto 3 Fitness for a lack of GPS, the omission of this feature perturbs us. Yes there’s plenty of people out there that love to do functional fitness and other workouts that just don’t require GPS for runs and cycles. But this is a Polar watch, and GPS just seems a needless omission.

The Polar Unite is available now at £134.99 in black, white, pink, and blue, with size small and M/L wristbands included. You can pick it up at the official Polar store.

⬆️ The Upside:  We believe that the Polar watch is a good bargain but not offering GPS is a major omission. In addition the watch is fairly limited from a biosensing capabilties standpoint. It also does not support advanced sensors to measure things like HRV, hydration, and more. So we doubt that Polar will be able to take significant share away from incumbents like Apple or Samsung in the long run.

⌚ Here’s our first look at the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 smartwatch | Via: Wareable

Proper pictures of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 have leaked, and it looks like the South Korean giant’s next smartwatch will be a cracker. To catch you up, Samsung’s next smartwatch has widely leaked, and looks set to be called the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. No, you didn’t miss a generation, but it looks like Samsung will skip on to Watch 3 to avoid confusion with the Galaxy Watch Active 2. We thought that perhaps this would unify the line-up into one smartwatch, but given the styling of these leaked pictures, that doesn’t seem the case. Seen and shared by Evleaks, the Galaxy Watch 3 continues the traditional styling of the first Galaxy Watch. In the picture we see the 45mm Galaxy Watch 3, with a a stainless steel case (evident from the back), with two prominent pushers and a slightly notched bezel. We know that the new Galaxy Watch 3 is set to shrink in size to 41mm and 45mm case sizes, and pack in GPS, heart rate.

There’s no sign from these leaks of whether the bezel will rotate, which was a key feature of the original Galaxy Watch and is rumoured to make a return. However, it features the same textured bezel edge as the original, which could indicate that it will rotate for navigating the Tizen OS. The Galaxy Watch 3 pictured also comes with a fetching leather strap, though it’s not clear whether this will be a premium option – or it will ship with one as standard. Generally, sporty smartwatches ship with a silicone band, and given that the Galaxy Watch 3 will pack GPS and swimming features, it will be interesting to see whether this is an entry level option.

The Galaxy Watch 3 looks set to ship in August, and there’s an Unpacked event scheduled for 5 August 2020.

⬆️ The Upside:  The Galaxy Watch 3 does not seem to offer much surprises so far. It is also still unclear which new features the watch will offer to differentiate itself from its predecessors. Will the Galaxy Watch 3 support Blood pressure monitoring or hydration measurement? These are some of the key questions that still need to be answered. It will be critical for Samsung to offer highly differentiated features to continue to compete against Apple in the long run.

Picture: Samsung

⌚ Lululemon acquires home fitness startup Mirror for $500M | Via: TechCrunch

Lululemon today announced plans to acquire home exercise startup Mirror for $500 million. The fitness apparel company noted its plans by way of a press release, noting that it hopes to close the sale by the end of the second fiscal quarter of this year. The deal comes at a time when home workout solutions are in high demand. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely limited workout options for many across the world, and the continued closure of gyms has prolonged the problem. Even when they begin to reopen in different locales, it seems many will be wary of returning to a potentially high-risk enclosed space, so long as the virus continues to spread.

“In 2019, we detailed our vision to be the experiential brand that ignites a community of people living the sweatlife through sweat, grow and connect,” CEO Calvin McDonald said in a press release tied to the news. “The acquisition of MIRROR is an exciting opportunity to build upon that vision, enhance our digital and interactive capabilities, and deepen our roots in the sweatlife. We look forward to learning from and working with Brynn Putnam and the team at Mirror to accelerate the growth of personalized in-home fitness.”

The two companies have a relationship dating back to late last year, when Lululemon become an investor in Mirror. The $34 million Series B-1 brought in $34 million for the New York startup’s $1,495 reflective guided workout machine, valuing the startup at around $300 million. The company has raised a total of $74.8 million from investors, including Point72 Ventures, Spark Capital, First Round Capital, Lerer Hippeau and BoxGroup. Karlie Kloss and Creative Agency founder Kevin Huvane are also investors.

Mirror has been viewed by many as an alternative to Peloton’s wildly popular connected machines. There’s stiff competition in the category of connected fitness slabs, including Tonal and Tempo, but Mirror continues to be the biggest name of the bunch. The company came out of stealth onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2018.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a good move from both Lululemon and Mirror. For Lululemon it is a direct response to address Peloton’s competition. This acquisition will allow Lululemon to (1) tap into the fast growing Connected fitness market (2) Acquire a talented engineering team and new product offering and IP. (3) Acquire new users . For Mirror it is an opportunity for the company to give a good ROI to investors especially in the time of COVID-19 crisis. We also expect Tonal, a Mirror competitor, to become another key M&A acquisition target in the coming months.

⌚ Why Garmin buying Firstbeat is big news for sports watches | Via: Wareable

Garmin has bought Firstbeat, the company that powers most of its advanced fitness algorithms – and it’s big news for the wearables market. You might not know what Firstbeat is, but essentially it powers all the really fun parts of Garmin fitness watches. The Training Effect, Training Load, Performance Condition, Recovery Advisor, VO2 Max – and all data that uses heart rate variability is powered by Firstbeat’s algorithms.

Firstbeat doesn’t make any hardware, it just licenses the tech that make sense of the data from Garmin’s heart rate, GPS and motion sensors. But things have got interesting because Firstbeat has been providing the same thing for a lot of companies, and essentially helping other wearables provide Garmin’s USPs for less money. We’ve seen Firstbeat stats – the exact ones you’ll find on immensely expensive devices such as the Fenix 6 – appear on budget devices like the Huawei Watch GT2eAmazfit AresCasio G-SHOCK H1000 and even Xiaomi Mi Watch Color.

And these devices are coming and eating into Garmin’s piece of the pie. Garmin recently emerged as the third biggest manufacturer of smartwatches, behind Apple and Samsung. However, Huawei has already usurped it with monster sales in Q1 2020, and there’s evidence that Xiaomi, Amazfit and Oppo could start encroaching if they ever get their act together in the US. We’ve often wondered how Garmin will fight back against the budget tech coming out of China, which now feature accurate sensors at low prices. So Garmin has moved to secure ownership of some of its best features, and now it owns Firstbeat’s algorithms and licensing business. The first and immediate questions are about whether the company will still let third parties use Firstbeat tech. The short term answer is yes, as referenced in Garmin’s press materials and confirmed to DCRainmaker. “Firstbeat Technologies will continue operating its Wellness and Professional Sports businesses,” read the statement.

Licensing money will swell Garmin’s coffers, but it can also make decisions about which companies are allowed to compete with it. We’re sure that the likes of Amazfit and Huawei will soon replicate these features for themselves. But for now it puts the power back in Garmin’s hands.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a great acquisition for Garmin to enhance its product offering. It will be able to tap into Firstbeat’s engineering talent to build new types of algorithms which will enable the OEM to generate new health insights and features about its users. Analytics and advanced algorithms have become a key differentiator among wearable vendors and we expect other OEMs to acquire startups similar to FirstBeat in order to further differentiate their offering in the long run.

Picture: Garmin


🎮 Esports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮 Everton announces ‘eFriendly’ initiative with Inter Miami CF | Via: InsiderSport

Everton has announced that the club will participate in an ‘eFriendly’ with David Beckham’s Inter Miami CF on 4 July as the Premier League side looks to strengthen its fan engagement initiatives. The eFriendly will see Richarlison take on Miami striker Julian Carranza in a three-game FIFA tournament on American Independence Day, the duo will also answer questions about their respective careers and interests.
Fans will be given the opportunity to win signed Everton and Inter Miami CF Shirts by the two players as part of the event, which will be broadcast on the Premier League club’s official channels from 5pm.

The initiative follows a long list of fan engagement opportunities that the club has launched in the last 12 months, including partnering with sleeve sponsor Angry Birds to integrate Jordan Pickford, Yerry Mina, Andre Gomes, and Goodison Park into the game.  Additionally, through the global health pandemic the club, along with many other sporting organisations have integrated esports into its initiatives in order to tap into a younger market. Due to lockdown guidelines halting many clubs from participating in any traditional promotional activities, most sides opted to use FIFA as a tool to ensure that interest doesn’t drop whilst the campaign was postponed.

It now seems that due the success of these events, alongside the uncertainty of planning tours outside of the UK, initiatives such as eFriendlies could be used by clubs in the future to increase their profile in other territories whilst travel restrictions still apply. The Premier League resumed its campaign earlier this month with Everton’s Merseyside derby draw against Liverpool being the most-watched top-division game in the UK by garnering an estimated 5.5m viewers. MLS will hope that its resumption, which is set to resume on 8 July at Disney World, will garner an increased viewership in the US due to the lack of live sporting events in the country.

⬆️ The Upside: We think this is a logical move from Inter Miami FC and Everton. Let’s keep inn mind that this announcement comes just a week after David Beckham entered the world of esport. This is another stepping stone for David Beckham to build an empire and become a major player in esport. Beckham is part of a global trend of athletes (Shaq, Steph Curry, Jordan..) that have jumped on the esport bandwagon in order to take advantage of this fast growing market which is set to reach $1.1B in revenue this year. You can check out our latest analysis: Esport: Hype Vs Reality.

Picture: Inter Miami FC


💸 Sports Tech & Health Investment (Fund raising, M&As) Trends — July 2020

  • Lululemon acquires home fitness startup Mirror for $500M. Via: TechCrunch
  • Google Buys Smart-Glasses Maker North For A Reported $180M. Via: PYMNTS.COM

📊 Key Tech & Biz Sports Stats of The Week

$171B: Jeff Bezos’s net worth hits a new record high of $171B.

$2.85B: As MLS expands, teams are moving away from the publicly-financed stadium route. There are currently seven teams developing privately-financed homes worth a collective $2.85 billion.

Stadiums in the works:

  • Austin FC – $260 million stadium and a $45 million training center
  • Columbus Crew SC – $300 million
  • FC Cincinnati – $250 million
  • Inter Miami CF – $60 million training facility and a stadium as a piece of a $1 billion development
  • Nashville SC – More than $325 million
  • Sacramento Republic FC – $252 million
  • St. Louis FC – $400 million

$900M: The NBA is projected to lose $1 billion even before the costs of Orlando were figured in, a number heavily driven by lost ticket revenue. However, the extra games will help the NBA retain millions in TV revenue, including approximately $900 million from the playoffs.

$500M: Lululemon is allegedly set to buy Mirror for $500M..note: Lululemon is one of Mirror’s investors.

$373M: The Football Association’s (FA) chief executive Mark Bullingham has announced that the organisation is set to lose £300m ($373M) and make 124 positions redundant as a result of the global health pandemic.

$317M: If Kylian Mbappé extended his contract with Paris St-Germain from June 2022 to June 2023, his estimated transfer value would increase from €242M ($272M) to €281M ($317M).

$150M: The Orlando bubble where NBA players will be staying to resume the NBA competition is set to cost the NBA more than $150 million. The costs include housing the 22 teams and support staff at three resorts, as well as the rental of the seven practice courts and three arenas.

$100M: Wimbledon, which was scheduled to start today, is set to receive more than $100 million thanks to a pandemic insurance policy. Tournament organizers canceled the event for the first time since 1945 because of the coronavirus.

1M: The Premier League has offered its support to the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship by providing ‘more than £1m’ to help the competitions restart next season.

700: The only two active players to reach 700 goals.

20: 20 years ago the French Football Team won the 2000’s Europe Soccer Cup against the Italian Football Team.

16: Six years ago today, Tim Howard made 16 saves against Belgium—a FIFA World Cup record to this day.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

NBA & Social justice. When the NBA returns to play in Orlando, players will reportedly be allowed to replace their last names with statements on social justice.

F1 drivers take a knee. Most Formula 1 drivers joined a ‘take a knee’ protest ahead of the start of the Austrian Grand Prix. The 20-strong field all wore black T-shirts, most with the messages ‘end racism’ across the front, while Lewis Hamilton‘s sported the ‘black lives matter’ slogan.

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