Upside video peer reviews of sleep tech company Fullpower Technologies (Philippe Khan / CEO, Arthur Kinsolving / CTO) by top sports performance experts (Derek Lawrance, Director of Health and Performance at SJ Earthquakes/MLS, Daniel Hayes, Performance Director at LA Dodgers / MiLB, Brian Lee, Sports Medicine, Program Manager, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Skylar Richards, Director of Physiology & Performance at Orlando City FC / MLS).
Last week we had the honor to interview Philippe Kahn, the CEO of Fullpower Technologies, a world’s leading sleep technology company. Philippe is also well known for creating the first camera phone and has been a pioneer in the area of wearable technology intellectual property.
📝Show Notes: We discussed Philippe’s background, how he started Fullpower Technologies, then we talked about his product, his plans for the next 2 years, and the trends he sees in the smart tech sleeping world.
Video: Philippe Kahn
Please note that this is the beginning of a video interview series with top sports and tech executives to discuss the latest and greatest technologies used in the world of pro sports.
In this difficult time we are seeing many coaches, trainers, sports execs in forced isolation. With that being said, coaches have to make sure that their players remain fit physically and mentally. On the other end, fans also want to be connected to teams and their favorite players. In this article we talked to some top sports performance experts, sports scientists, heads of physiology, and neurofeedback experts in the MLS, MLB, NBA, NHL, FIFA, Olympic teams, as well as tech vendors who can help players better manage their sleep, stress and help teams stay connected to their fans while generating revenue. We are entering into a new era and it is time for coaches, teams, players and sports tech execs in general to adapt their business models and way of thinking.
A. Testimonials from top sports performance, sleep and neurofeedback experts:
- Use players’ wearable data to prescribe an undulating running plan. Have the team nutritionist meet players monthly (Derek Lawrance, Director of Health & Performance at SJ Earthquakes (MLS):
“From our team’s perspective, first and foremost, the health of the players and their families take precedence. We are in constant contact with players to ensure everyone is staying healthy. After the initial shock wore off, we knew it was going to be awhile until we gathered back together as a team, training. It was important from a Performance Department that we provide our athletes with a detailed workout plan, including gym work and/or body weight exercises for those who do not have access to a gym. In order to determine a cardiovascular prescription, we utilized our data collection from STATsport to prescribe an undulating running plan. This methodology ensured the players did not taper off their chronic loads in case we returned to training sooner than expected. We will continue to monitor the timeline and adjust the prescriptions as needed because if there is one thing we know right now, things change constantly.
As for nutrition, our athletes meet with our Team Nutritionist on a monthly basis, so they have a firm grasp on what is expected of them in terms of dietary needs. The athletes know how to alter their intake in accordance with the intensity that is prescribed, based on their own RPE. We can hope that our athletes are doing everything in their power to maintain their fitness but ultimately, we will have to return them to full 90 minute fitness over the course of a shortened preseason when games resume. As a Performance Department, we trust in our prescriptions and previous education on nutrition to guide our athletes through these tough times while mentally and physically preparing them to return”, said Derek Lawrance, Director of Health & Performance at SJ Earthquakes (MLS) during an interview with The Upside.
- “Work out at home to get ready to play when season resumes” (Daniel Hayes, MiLB Performance Coach, at the LA Dodgers (MLB)):
“Life is more important than sport, but our jobs are to put these guys in the best spots possible for when the game resumes while working around their schedules and current social limitations. Gyms may be closed, but weight is weight and gravity is everywhere. Work can be done.”, said Daniel Hayes, MiLB Performance Coach, at the LA Dodgers (MLB), during an interview with The Upside.
- “Transform existing sports performance technologies into remote monitoring tech to maintain players’ fitness and training” (Skylar Richards, Director of Physiology & Performance, Orlando City FC (MLS):
“An interesting dilemma was utilizing the tech we had to transform it into remote monitoring tech. This dilemma is faced by many other sports due to long off season cycles, but is not often the case in professional soccer. I think the furniture of monitoring technologies will be able to handle both situations well”, said Skylar Richards, Director of Physiology & Performance, Orlando City FC (MLS), during an interview with The Upside.
- Adapt yourself to the situation but the art of doing the job without working directly with athletes remains the same:
“Our careers are special as they give us unique puzzles to try to achieve our goals. This is no different. These goals are: How to maintain fitness without working directly with your athletes, how to monitor their physiological well being, how to provide guidance and leadership. The science remains the same, but the art of doing the job remains the challenge”, Skylar Richards, Director of Physiology & Performance, Orlando City FC (MLS), during an interview with The Upside.
- Design a realistic and achievable training program based on players’ feedback and environment (Pierre Barrieu, High Performance Expert, Consultant. Ex USA National Team, EPL and MLS (Ex LA Galaxy) Head of Performance ):
“The Challenge is not to design a training program, but really to design something realistic and achievable. In terms of physical goals as well as in terms of facilities available. Concretely, I like to put the player back in the center of his program. Get his input, decide together with the player. Having him give his input I think guarantee us a higher chance of better compliance. Players like to do what they are good at. A little less of what they either do not like and/or are not good at (Most of the time, this goes hand in hand but not always). For example: Do they live in a house or an apartment. Do they have access to a garden or not? Do they have access to outdoor facilities or not? Do they have a home gym, etc.?”, said Pierre Barrieu, High Performance Expert, Consultant. Ex USA National Team, EPL and MLS (Ex LA Galaxy), during an interview with The Upside.
- Leverage players’ existing data to focus on their strengths or weaknesses:
“Do I/we decide to focus on his Strengths or weaknesses? What do we do in terms of timing and reasonable expectations for the return to train (Not play) date? From experience, I have designed programs with milestones to hit. It can be a time on a shuttle run, a target Heart Rate to reach on a certain exercise. We have to use all the data that we already have available from their time in their clubs. We have target zones, specific muscle groups that we need to focus on. It could be strengths and flexibility”, said Mr Barrieu.
- Build a flexible training program. Focus on mental training:
“Speaking of flexibility and seeing the glass half full, which is always my recommendation when it comes to coaching…No matter what phase/period the club and the player are in. The actual situation is an opportunity to spend more time than usual on areas that we usually don’t. Flexibility is one of them. Yoga for Sports tutorial online is one example. Mental training is another one. Many apps exist now to improve in this area. It may sound stupid but loading up on sleep at a period (February/March) where we are usually walking the tight rope considering the accumulation of stress of organisms”, continued Mr Barrieu.
- Focus on video training and group chats:
I like the idea of doing a team video training session if possible. But this is only possible in the best-case scenario of players having home gyms. Even before this, group chat is a must for players to stay in touch and feel the affiliation to a group and maintain the team spirit. In any case, in these challenging times, we are doing “damage control”. Also in any case, this will be based on Trust as much as Technology. The body of a professional / high level player is a well-tuned machine. The absence of competition and high-level training will lead to a very rapid drop in baseline physical fitness”, said Mr Barrieu.
- Do not stop training to avoid drop in VO2 max levels:
“My message is do not stop training. We know from studies that the V02 max levels significantly drop after as little as a 2 weeks hiatus. Training reversibility is a fact, therefore it is essential to maintain a regular (daily) physical activity. Especially in the current situation where there will be a transitional period once training resumes to get back to shape but it will be very short (compare to a regular preseason). Lastly, in this period of (relative) inactivity, it is crucial to reduce the caloric intake”, concluded Mr Barrieu.
- Focus on rest, recovery and mental health (Richard Hanbury, CEO of Sana Health):
“Rest, recovery and mental health are all interconnected. In times of high stress, if one of these three pillars of wellness are disrupted, an imbalance in the other pillars can occur. Sana, a bio-therapeutic audio visual device is used to help accelerate mental and physical recovery. Using a 16 minute cycle of light pulses and sounds, the Sana device is able to induce deep relaxation and often puts users to sleep, providing patients the opportunity to relax, leading to recovery and restoring the patient’s wellness”, said Richard Hanbury, CEO of Sana Health, during an interview with The Upside.
- “As the world is reborn from this crisis there is an opportunity to put an emphasis on how Medtech can help improve the quality of sleep” (Philippe Kahn, Founder, CEO of Fullpower Technologies):
“One positive element about the Coronavirus crisis is that the general public now understands better the benefits of wellness and sleep in particular, which is 1/3 of our lives. This means that as the world is reborn from this crisis there is an opportunity to put an emphasis on how Medtech can help improve the quality of sleep. The approximately 8 hours we spend in bed nightly is also a fantastic opportunity for optimizing recovery through continuous non-invasive monitoring of key vital signs. For example, Fullpower contactless AI-powered bio-sensing monitors continuously heart rate, respiration rate, and sleep stages throughout the night. This rich information provides deep insights into your health and fitness status, as well as trends and changes.
Better sleep may be one of the best ways to strengthen everyone’s immune system, together with exercise and an optimized diet. As we all brace for the full impact of Coronavirus, one thing we can all do is optimize our sleep performance”, said Philippe Kahn, CEO of Fullpower Technologies, during an interview with The Upside.
- Stay home, stay safe, stay fit (Iñigo Mujika, Ph.D, Associate Professor University of the Basque Country; Sports Science Coordinator Royal Spanish Swimming Federation):
“On Robben Island I would do my exercises in my own cramped cell, but now I had room to stretch out. At Pollsmoor, I would wake up at five and do an hour and a half of exercise in our communal cell. I did my usual regimen of stationary running, skipping rope, sit-ups, and fingertip press-ups.” Nelson Mandela
If Nelson Mandela could do it in his own cramped cell for 27 years, any of us can do it for a few weeks in the relative comfort of our own homes! Seven days ago I was at one of the world’s best altitude high performance centers, helping elite swimmers prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the best possible training conditions, with unlimited access to magnificent training facilities, and surrounded by beautiful mountains and ski runs. For the past week those swimmers, like me, have been stuck at home, unable to go out, and nowhere near a decent size pool to continue their Olympic preparations, said Iñigo Mujika, Ph.D, Associate Professor University of the Basque Country; Sports Science Coordinator Royal Spanish Swimming Federation, during an interview with The Upside.
—- Reduced training and/or cross-training programs can help athletes retain training adaptations for a very long time:
“We are all aware that this unfortunate situation that is affecting elite and recreational athletes worldwide is far from ideal, especially because we don’t really know how long it could last. However, it should be no excuse to give up Olympic dreams and more modest performance goals. Yes, sport science research has clearly shown that even a short-term (e.g. 2-4 weeks) discontinuation of a systematic program of physical conditioning can result in a partial or complete loss of training-induced anatomical, physiological and performance adaptations. That’s the bad news: if we stop training, we are going to detrain, and fairly quickly too! The good news is that reduced training and/or cross-training programs can help athletes retain training adaptations for a very long time. So look at the bright side and keep training at home, use those stationary bikes, turbo trainers, treadmills, rowing ergometers, dumbbells, elastic bands, suspension trainers, swiss balls, bosus, medicine balls, etc. Don’t have any training material? Be creative: Nelson Mandela did not have any either! Stay home, stay safe and help flattening the curve!”, concluded Iñigo Mujika, Ph.D.
- Focus on circuit training, gamification, group challenges between players via group chats to help keep players motivated during training at home (Maxime Coulerot, Former Head Sports Performance & esport at PSG and AS Monaco (Ligue 1 pro & academy)):
“When the federations or leagues relaunch the calendars of the various sports, the clubs or individual sportsmen will have no other choice than to be present. Consequently, coaches must at all costs maintain contact with their athletes.
The creation of programs depends on the sensitivity of everything to everyone. However, it will certainly be necessary to sit on certain personal and scientific convictions during this period. The reason is simple: “necessity rules”, in other words “we do as we can”. For high-level athletes who are lucky enough to have equipment available, the creation of classic sessions or workshops of the “circuit training” type is easier. Why do a “circuit training”? Quite simply because the variation of the exercises limits the boredom as well as the associated problems (cf. above). Circuit training is a form of gamification of efforts. Gamification thus makes it possible to obtain commitment from athletes who will be more assiduous. In this logic of gamification, it is important to set end of cycle / weekend goals. Top-level athletes are conditioned by this weekend performance standard. If they cannot create their own vision of why they do things, then they must be helped. A collective challenge, duels between partners via modern means of communication (such as Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Teams, etc.) will help them keep the motivation of training at home.
In order not to feel alone, it is important to create discussion groups, via applications or social networks (WhatsApp, Instagram, Telegram, Teams, Facebook, Strava, etc.). The animation of these discussion channels is also important: setting appointments, the times of the sessions, the animation of certain exercises, for example by turning upstream the tutorials explaining the exercises, in which the key points will be explained. the right position during stretching,… The purpose of all these measures having various objectives. Even if it is essentially a question of maintaining the physical qualities specific to each sport, another element is important: limiting the isolation that each person may feel over the course of the days and the need for psychological escape. Top athletes are “beasts” of social interaction and this drop in interaction is very mentally trying. Going from a day where you meet 40 to 100 people to just your family unit is very violent if it was not prepared beforehand. If certain studies including E. Grebot & S. Berjot in 2016 have shown that being unemployed has the same impact as post-traumatic stress syndromes, we must prepare athletes as well as citizens to live a collective test almost alone and we will also have to prepare to “fix” tomorrow. Anyway, the things that will be applied during this health crisis will certainly be saved to change our practices of tomorrow”, said Maxime Coulerot, former head of performance for PSG and AS Monaco (Ligue 1), during an interview with The Upside.
- Focus on body composition, readjust players’ diet with new load of exercises during the COVID crisis (Manoel Coutinho, Sports Science Manager for Botafogo FR, a leading Brazilian soccer team):
“Although we are experiencing an unprecedented situation in the history of elite sport, this moment in time presents very little similarities with a typical offseason experience by sports teams, when activities in clubs are suspended during that time period. Based on this situation, the first priority to take care of athletes’ health should be to focus on their body composition, readjust their diet with a new load of exercises that will be performed in this period. This regiment will be essential to mitigate the effects of physical activity restrictions during this time period. It is important that the athlete schedule workouts that create stimuli for the main physical exercises, such as endurance, strength, agility, coordination and flexibility.
The minimum maintenance of these training sessions will be fundamental for a better preadaptation when the training sessions get back to normal and consequently reduce injury risk”, said Manoel Coutinho, Sports Science Manager for Botafogo FR a leading Brazilian soccer team, and former Fitness Assessment Member for 1990 FIFA World Cup at the C.B.F. (Brazilian Football Federation) during an interview with The Upside.
- Try to preserve physical conditioning and maintain lean body mass while in quarantine (Manoel Coutinho (Botafogo FR) and Leticia Azen, sports nutritionist, PhD, owner at Nutrição Esportiva):
“1 – Always hydrate yourself. The amount of liquids depends on how much we sweat, that is, the losses, so when it becomes difficult to measure, always pay attention to the color of your urine. It should always be almost transparent. The best drink is always water, but all the liquid consumed will also contribute.
2 – Avoid prolonged fasting and restrictive diets. To avoid increasing body fat too much it will be necessary to adopt a more “low carb” dietary pattern. However, as quantifying carbohydrates can be difficult, reduce the amounts of food you regularly consume and opt for whole, fruit and vegetable versions.
3 – Listen to the “signs” of your body and eat only when you are hungry. In general, when we reduce the volume and intensity of training, we start to feel less hungry. It is as if the body knows that we need less energy (..) Do not forget that your energy expenditure is now reduced, but, on the other hand, to avoid loss of muscle mass, try to eat about 4 meals daily, noting if there are sources of protein in all of them.
4 – Use supplementation only if you need to supplement what the food is not able to supply. It is not a priority.
5 – What to consume to strengthen immunity? Don’t believe in miracle potions! Your immunity is a reflection of what you have done over time. No food / nutrient alone guarantees “immune boosting”, and it is necessary to sustain a healthy, varied and colorful diet, rich in vegetables, fruits and adequate in proteins”, said Manoel Coutinho (Botafogo FR) and Leticia Azen, sports nutritionist, PhD, owner at Nutrição Esportiva, and former researcher at the Brazilian Army Physical Training Research Institute (IPCFex), and one of the authors of the book “Sport Nutrition and Supplementation Strategies” (3rd ed., Manole, 2015), during an interview with The Upside.
- Work on players’ self-regulation of their stress response due to COVID-19 to make them strong mentally:
“Because athletes are required to stay prepared while keeping “social distance”, they are essentially on their own. Here are a few tips on what they might do. This is a great time to work on the self-regulation of your stress response, stress that is occurring within your family and teammates because of the virus, but also the stress and anxiety you encounter daily as an athlete. Perhaps the single best way to measure and train your stress responses is with “heart rate variability” (HRV). HRV trains you to regulate your breathing and respiration rate. A number of companies have tablet/phone apps that can be downloaded and you can start training immediately. Some companies like Elite HRV, and Thought Technology also have an inexpensive small piece of hardware that accompanies the App.
GameSense sports is a technology company that has developed an app for baseball and softball that measures and teaches pitch recognition using the scientifically validated method of “visual occlusion. It utilizes live video from a large library of pitchers at different levels of ability. Again your phone or tablet is all you need to improve your perceptual/cognitive decision making skills in baseball. Unfortunately the other major professional sports do not have a comparable training system at this time.
In my recent book, “The Playmakers Advantage”, I discussed the importance of training decision-making skills in elite performers along with ideas on how this might be done. So reading of books for self-improvement would also be a something athletes, and coaches alike could engage in during these uncertain times”, said Leonard Zaichkowsky, PhD, retired Boston University professor, and consultant to professional sports leagues, during an interview with The Upside.
- Transform your house into a training facility (Donato Campagnoli, Technical consultant for the Italian tennis Federation (FIT), and CEO & Founder of Mas-Tech):
“Can tennis players on lockdown for weeks still get ready and be physically fit for the season to come? Yes, never mind if you don’t have a big space, the coach just has to help them “rediscover” the spaces they normally live in. So, I just used a bit of imagination “to transform a home into a country club” for my players. The living room can be the place for players to have an early morning routine (between 5.30 and 6.00 AM) and the place to have the right nutrition and hydration during breakfast, but also the place to enjoy their rollers for muscle relaxation and for muscular stretching at the end of the day. Players should also have a stationary bike and follow elastic bents routines: with a decent internet connection they can have 30’/40 minutes of pure fun in their living room. The bedroom is also the perfect place to practice tennis techniques: there is nothing better than seeing yourself simulating tennis gestures and reproducing tactical situations in front of a mirror. My players play all their shots at very low pace 3 times a week for 45′ each session: focus on footwork, feelings and mental toughness. Players should also use their courtyard as an “outdoor gym”, which is the ideal place for footwork tennis-like intensity circuit-trainings, jumping rope and playing tennis against the wall.
If players have a big garden and and a big house, they should also focus on laps of 250/300 meters long with regular change of running direction which is basically the cardio vascular training they would need. The best set-up ever for a warehouse is to have a basketball or a tennis table court inside for one vs one “street-ball” matches or best-of-five ties up to 21 points. Last but not least, the players that I coach watch tons of tennis on TV! In Italy, in fact we do have “Super Tennis” (24/7 only Tennis matches and tennis entertainment). TV sport programs are perfect for athletes to improve problem-solving and decision-making skills on tactics and strategy thanks to active questioning. There are of course many other ways to keep everybody active and moving during the Coronavirus time: I like the idea that these days can be very productive and that sportsmen can show their commitment and their passion.”, said Donato Campagnoli, a Technical consultant for Italian tennis Federation (FIT), during an interview with The Upside.
- Stay healthy and optimize your immune system (Erik Peper, Ph.D):
“The first step is to stay healthy and optimize your immune system:
- Implement social distancing which means physical distancing and increasing social connectiveness.
- Allow enough rest and recovery after exercise since excessive training and workouts suppress the immune system
- Get enough sleep to restore the body
- Eat healthy foods (vegetables and fruits) and eliminate sugars and simple carbohydrates. See the article here.
- Identify stressors and implement strategies to resolve them.
- Practice stress reductions techniques such as progressive relaxation and effortless diaphragmatic breathing. See article here and here.
The second step is how to maintain and increase performance: Use mental rehearsal/visualization to practice your skill. When practicing the mental rehearsal sense the dynamic movement in your body. It should take just as long as the actual performance. When mentally rehearsing and you do not sense that you are performing the movement but it is more an outside view, then wear the clothing you use for your performance and role play in actual movement the performance. For detailed example see here“, said Erik Peper, Ph.D, from the Institute for Holistic Health Studies/Department of Recreation, Parks, Tourism and Holistic Health, at the San Francisco State University, during an interview with The Upside.
- Practice visualizations, and slow breathing (Vietta Sue Wilson, PhD, BCB, BCN, retired professor, from York University):
“Here is how to help athletes practice for success:
- Nothing works unless practiced, and quality comes with intention before you practice.
- It takes approximately 66 days to get a skill into some form of a habit.
- Recommended time for practice is approximately 90 minutes a week. Create a daily routine.
- Choose the skill you least skilled in. Athletes tend to practice what they are good at.
- Practice in an environment that is relevant to your training. For example, some athletes are highly focused during competition but less so during practice sessions: so practice paying attention in situations that are more similar to practice, eg, more boring, not stimulating, circumstances. For those who have more trouble focusing on the task during competition (distraction, anxiety), it may be more beneficial to focus on the skill in an environment with lots of distractions that require you to focus on what you should be doing at that moment.
- Initially, it is helpful to be aware of your physical and mental state. Awareness is critical to being able to adapt to circumstances. For example, when you are practicing a mental skill, what is your body doing (is there tension in the shoulders? Are you holding your breath? If you are practicing your breathing, did you set an intention before beginning? Is your mind staying on the body motion, or counting? You can learn to quickly scan your mind/body and thus choose how you want to change or be.
Some of the most impactful exercises are simple, those include:
1. Do visualizations of your myriad of sport skills: Do a mimic if you can’t actually practice the skill. Repeat the visualization.
2. Slow breathing—let exhalation be slower than inhalation. Release facial and shoulder tension as they exhale! As you exhale feel the shoulder and arms relaxing and then relax even more.
3. Watch videos of yourself: only watch once if it is poorly done, watch multiple time if performed well. If you have no films of yourself, watch experts from internet whose style matches yours. Watch once and then role model how they are doing it”, said Vietta Sue Wilson, PhD, BCB, BCN, retired professor, from York University (Toronto), during an interview with The Upside. Check out her website here.
B. Testimonials from tech startups for head of digitals, director of technologies of pro teams and leagues:
- Stay connected with your fans via “live virtual studios” and bring advertisers on board in this difficult time (Marc Rowley CEO of Live CGI):
“We are Live CGI, we are a virtual studio built to have people work remotely to create branded content. We built a product to help people create branded content for this changing time. We have a virtual studio product that is super easy to use and works with all streaming services and video conference solutions. Works for schools, bloggers, tv shows, just about anything you want. We just signed our first partner today, SugarGamers. We have more coming in”, said Marc Rowley CEO of Live CGI, during an interview with The Upside.
“This is a product to help solve an issue teams are dealing with. The loss of the connection between their players, fans, and their advertising partners during this time of uncertainty. All teams have sold in-stadium advertising, yet with the games being canceled that connection is not present. With our solution, you can have people streaming independently or recording videos and they will all be in your studio with your advertisers,
Since many of the players are already streaming on Twitch and other programs this would help you strengthen the message and keep informing fans of the status updates without having to go to a physical studio. Right now teams are missing out on connections when the players just open a camera and stream, branding is key to keeping the continuity for the fans. It is just software and we can help people set it up remotely. No need to leave the house. It is as easy as a screen share for folks on Zoom, Twitch, Google Classroom + Hangouts, OBS or anything else”, concluded Mr Rowley.
Here is a video that shows what the virtual studio experience looks like:
Video: Live CGI, virtual studio for teams and players
- Take advantage of social media to stay connected to your fans (CJ Davis, Creative Director at Quince Imaging a leading projection mapping company):
“It is absolutely critical that players and teams take advantage of social media and share quick bites out to their fans. Even if it not relevant to the sport alone, people are looking for ways to relate. Sharing stories of “doing my part” will continue to inspire hope and encourage others to take the actions necessary for us all to get though this as fast as possible.
Traditional sports players and coaches could begin to engage more actively via their video game counterpart. Players should host video game play with fans recreationally or even in semi competitive formats. This will help keep people engaged while also growing competitive esports”, said CJ Davis during an interview with The Upside.
Video: Quince Imaging, Home Run Derby 2018 Field Projection
- Increase communications and ways of bringing new and amazing experiences to your fans. Let’s go virtual! (Albert Palay, CEO of The Dream VR):
“Difficult times are what tend to brings us together not being afraid about the future. Although we have to take hard measures at the moment, we are lucky to be able to keep working remotely while we wait for this ordeal to end. We must carry on and hold it together! Now more than ever it’s time to stand together, raise our voices to speak louder and embrace each other no matter where they are or who they are. Technology makes it ever more possible to stay connected and share our warmth and support for each other.
We have to increase our communications and ways of bringing new and amazing experiences to the consumers. To the teams and brands! The world is going to change and there is going to be a new way to live, to communicate, to consume content and to shop! A new whole world of opportunities is before us!! let’s give to our people the best we have! Let’s make it happen! ! Let’s go virtual!”, said Albert Palay CEO of The Dream VR, during an interview with The Upside.
Dear Friends and Members,
Last Friday, we published our analysis on the NBA’s crisis in China and how important China is for the NBA, 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!
On Friday we plan to publish our next weekly sports and tech analysis.
📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week
👓 Varjo Technologies claims “human-eye” resolutions
🥽 Microsoft says it will try to bring Flight Simulator to VR headsets
🔈Google Pixel Buds 2 will take on Apple AirPods from spring 2020
⌚ Hublot is launching another football-themed smartwatch, this time for Euro 2020
🍏Apple smart ring could bring smartwatch features to your finger
🎮 LAFC (MLS) announces its eSports team
💸 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
👓 Varjo Technologies claims “human-eye” resolutions | Via: Wearable
VR headsets aren’t all about resolution, but at the same time, it’s a pretty pivotal metric. Finnish company Varjo Technologies has two headsets it’s excited about, the VR-2 and VR-2 Pro, which it claims have resolution to make the gods weep – up to 4K resolution per eye.
Of course, in the world of VR basically only the Oculus Quest marries good specs with accessible pricing. The VR-2 Pro costs a staggering €5,995, while the VR-2 is a lower but still super expensive €4,995. With those prices, the headsets are obviously more of an enterprise solution, but pack some interesting tech that could trickle down to consumers.
The headsets have eye-tracking of Varjo’s own design, with hand-tracking provided by UltraLeap built-in, making controllers unnecessary. Eye-tracking is still far from widespread, so makes for an intriguing VR headset package.
⬆️ The Upside: This move by Varjo should not come as a surprise. Varjo has been primarily focused on building high resolution VR headsets but we believe that these types of VR headsets are out of reach for most consumers. That being said we believe that we are a few years away before seeing affordable high resolution VR headsets on the market.
🥽 Microsoft says it will try to bring Flight Simulator to VR headsets | Via: Wearable
Microsoft’s latest generation of the storied sim Flight Simulator looks, unsurprisingly, like its most photorealistic yet, with live weather patterns and light conditions determined by sophisticated AI.
Now, the team has stated that it’s going to be pulling out the stops to try to get support for VR headsets into the game. It says that it will be working to get in in time for launch, but if not that it could come afterwards.
For now, we’d assume that means for the PC version of the game, although, as we discovered last week, Microsoft does look like it has plans for virtual reality on the next Xbox.
⬆️ The Upside: We believe that the Xbox is set to be at the core of Microsoft’s VR strategy. While Microsoft has become a leading player in the AR space with Microsoft Hololens, we believe that Microsoft is also likely to build an hybrid AR/VR headsets in the future. Other players such as Facebook/Oculus are set to have a similar strategy in the future.
Picture: Microsoft XBox
🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News
🔈Google Pixel Buds 2 will take on Apple AirPods from spring 2020 | Via: Wearable
Google has officially unveiled its first pair of truly wireless earbuds, but you won’t be able to own them until spring 2020.
The ‘New Pixel Buds’ were unveiled at the Made by Google event in New York, and, following in the footsteps of Apple, Samsung, Amazon and others, Google is ditching the headphone cable.
Pricing for the second generation model of the Pixel Buds is $179, which makes them cheaper than the latest Apple AirPods. Amazon Echo Buds are still cheaper, though, coming in at $129. When they are available, you’ll be able to pick from four colors: Clearly White, Oh So Orange, Quite Mint and Almost Black. And, unlike before, the earbuds sit flush inside the ear, which Google say will ensure you get full, rich sound that minimizes sound leak. The company has packed in custom sensors, speakers and batteries inside of the Pixel Buds 2 to ensure they can be worn discreetly, too.
The wireless headphones are also now sweat and water resistant, making them suitable for the gym, and there’s touch controls built into the earbuds. Those controls give you the ability to tap to play or pause music or swipe to adjust volume.
The buds will feature an adaptive sound feature that can automatically adjust the volume, depending on the kind of environment you’re in. Google says the buds include long-range Bluetooth connectivity, as well, so can stay connected to a paired device from three rooms away.
There’s the promise of clearer call quality through the dual on-board microphones, real-time translations and hands-free access to Google Assistant just by saying, “Hey Google”.
A built-in voice accelerometer is able to detect speech through the vibrations of your jawbone. This means you can be heard in windy conditions. Handy, if you’re out for a run, we imagine.
Battery life for the new Pixel Buds is five hours off a single charge, which isn’t anything out of the ordinary in comparison to other truly wireless earbuds. It will also come with a wireless charging case that gives you 24 hours of battery to top up your buds.
The bad news, obviously, is that the second generation Google Pixel buds are not launching until next year. That’s an odd move by Google, but it might mean it’s planning to bring additional features, or refine current ones, before the full launch.
The first Pixel Buds launched in 2017, and it’s fair to say they were an abject failure. The $159 headphones were oddly designed, with sound leaks and plenty of issues with the headline feature, translation.
The hearable landscape has changed since Google entered it, so we hope it’s got it right this time when the new Pixel Buds are finally up for grabs.
⬆️ The Upside: We think that the Google Pixel Buds 2 is a great product overall. We particularly like features such as real-time translation, Google Assistant-built in, as well the the wireless charging capability. In the recent years, the smart earbuds space has become a crowded space with large tech companies (Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, etc.) offering smart earbuds. Moving forward we expect Google to add biosensing capabilities to the Google Pixel Buds so that the device will be able to measure and track users’ biometric data (e.g. HR, HRV, stress level, blood pressure..). This will help Google further differentiate its offering and gain market share.
⌚ Hublot is launching another football-themed smartwatch, this time for Euro 2020 | Via: Wearable
Hublot is set to launch another smartwatch and like its first, it’s going to be a tie-in with a major football tournament. Speaking in an interview with Fortune India, Hublot’s CEO Ricardo Guadalupe confirmed that the Swiss watchmaker will be going connected again for the UEFA European Football Championships, which takes place across twelve venues across Europe between 2 June and the 12 July.
“We brought out a smartwatch during the football world cup in Russia in 2018 and will be launching a new smartwatch next year during the Euro Cup,” confirmed Guadalupe.
Guadalupe didn’t get into any specifics about what we can expect from its next smartwatch, though we imagine it’ll be very similar to the ridiculously named Big Bang Referee 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia smartwatch it launched back in 2018 months before the action kicked off.
The World Cup watch was worn by referees during the tournament while Hublot also made a limited 2,018 pieces available for the princely sum of 5,000 francs (around £3,700) if you wanted one too.
It ran on Google’s Wear OS to offer that core smartwatch experience along with some extras for the refs to keep track of games. There was also a handy interactive watch face that notified you about action from all of the games as they were taking place in real time.
We managed to get the big, expensive Wear smartwatch in to try out during the World Cup and it offered a familiar experience in a watch design that it’s fair to say was an acquired taste.
It was suggested that its first smartwatch would be a one-off, though clearly Hublot thinks there’s a place for a connected timepiece in its bold watch collection. “We believe Hublot has to invest in new technologies and that there is a space for luxury smartwatches, he said. “We won’t produce smartwatches en masse like Apple but will do a select few and price them at a premium.”
There’s no details when the Hublot Euro 2020 smartwatch will drop or whether it’ll have a similarly long name as the first Hublot smartwatch. The Big Bang Referee was shown off at the Baselworld watch fair in March 2018, before being made available a couple of months later.
We think it’s safe to assume that Hublot will have similar plans for its next watch and it’ll be another expensive (and limited) one to get hold of.
⬆️ The Upside: We think this move makes sense for Hublot. We expect Hublot to continue to adopt such strategy in the future and build smartwatches for special sporting events (2022 Qatar Soccer World Cup). As Hublot CEO pointed out, this type of smartwatch won’t be a smartwatch for the masses as it will be priced at a premium, but Hublot has done well and this is the kind of product that will continue to appeal to its customers.
🍏Apple smart ring could bring smartwatch features to your finger | Via: Wearable
Apple is exploring building a smart ring after a it won a patent that indicates it’s looking at a new wearable tech form factor.
The folks at VentureBeat spotted the revealing patent (pictured below) that showcases a few different versions of a possible smart ring.
The patent however doesn’t describe the ring as a standalone device like the Oura Ring (pictured above) or Motiv smart rings. Instead it would work by pairing with other Apple devices to offer control-like features with gestures and input tech built into the piece of jewelry.
This could mean moving the ring through the air to use gesture-based control, although Apple’s also hints that other versions of the ring could include a voice assistant to receive instructions from users. That’s a feature we’ve already seen promised by the recently announced Amazon Echo Loop smart ring.
Apple’s ring could also feature a small touch-sensitive input area enabling users to swipe and tap to access features. There are also indications the ring would offer haptic feedback to give users directions as they navigate, or a small dial like the Apple Watch‘s digital crown for physical input. There are also mentions of a motion sensor to detect sophisticated gestures like a page-turn or the twist of a wrist.
Apple’s clearly at least partly in blue-sky thinking mode here. Elsewhere in the patent it details the potential for a small display on the ring, along with the option of a telephone module for taking and making calls. That’s the sort of thing that we’d imagine won’t be possible for some time, given the battery constraints of the form factor.
Still, battery life is firmly on the agenda; the patent shows a few possible charging methods including mats, wireless stands like that in the image above, and the option of a charger that could actually power up more than one ring at a time.
As we always say about patents, there’s a good chance that nothing comes of this at all. Smart rings do already exist though, and a handful of startups have proved that the form factor can work. Amazon’s entry into the space signals the first major tech company to explore the smart ring space. So maybe Apple will be the next big tech name to smarten up our fingers.
⬆️ The Upside: This move by Apple would not come as a surprise for several reasons: (1) Tim Cook made it clear that they will be offering new types of wearables in the future. There is already speculations about a potential Apple smart t-shirt so a smart ring would be a nice addition to Apple’s wearable product portfolio. (2) The level of competition in the smart ring market has increased in the past few months with large tech companies like Amazon entering the market with an Alexa enabled smart ring. (3) An increasing number of tech companies are building new devices leveraging gesture technologies. Google announced the pixel 4 which uses Google’s Soli, a finger based gesture technology. So an Apple smart ring using gesture technology to control other devices would be a good move for Apple.
🎮 eSports & Crypto-Currency News
🎮 LAFC (MLS) announces its eSports team | Via: LAFC
LAFC announced last week its official entry into eMLS, Major League Soccer’s competitive gaming league competing in the EA SPORTS™ FIFA franchise.
The Black & Gold are the latest addition to eMLS, which includes 25 eMLS competitors, each representing different MLS clubs. Austin FC and Nashville SC will also join eMLS.
LAFC will host an online selection qualifying tournament in search of the club’s first-ever esports player to represent the club in eMLS competitions. Three qualifying round competitions will take place on October 26, November 1 and 3, before the top performers of the first three rounds battle in the final on Wednesday, November 6.
MLS announced the creation of eMLS in January 2018, a dedicated esports league with professional EA SPORTS™ FIFA players representing MLS Clubs. eMLS activates via a competitive season – inclusive of eMLS League Series and eMLS Cup Presented by PlayStation – and other gaming programming.
⬆️ The Upside: We think this is a great move by the LAFC for several reasons: (1) LA is a key city when it comes to the world of eSports with local eSports events, and leading eSports organizations (Redbull). With that in mind the LAFC will be able to attract LA based eSports fans. (2) Soccer teams have been early adopters of eSports, especially in Europe. (3) Globally eSports has been gaining strong momentum. In fact, global eSports revenue are expected to reach $1B+ by YE 2019, with 250M+ frequent eSports viewers, according to Statista.
💸 Sports Investment Trends — October, 2019
- Chinese eSports organization Victory Five raises over $14M in Series A funding, and announced plans for a venue. Read on here.
- The British investment firm Hiro Capital announced the launch of a $110M VC fund to back games, esports, and digital sports companies in the EU and UK. Read on here.
📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week
$445.6M: The total amount wagered on sports in New Jersey in September, beating the previous record month by $60M, according to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
$400M: The annual estimated economic impact from hosting a Formula One race in Miami, according to Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel and Sean Bratches, F-1’s managing director of commercial operations.
300M: 300 Million people play basketball recreationally in China.
249M: Real Madrid is leading the way among top soccer teams with a total of 249M social media followers. FC Barcelona came as a close second with 246M followers.
- Real Madrid – 249 million
- FC Barcelona – 246 million
- Manchester United – 130 million
- Juventus – 85 million
- Chelsea – 82 million
141M: The number of followers each of these properties had across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube as of October 10, according to KPMG:
- UEFA Champions League – 141 million
- NBA – 119 million
- Premier League – 95 million
- LaLiga – 87 million
- FIFA World Cup – 68 million
- NFL – 63 million
- UFC – 54 million
- International Cricket Council – 48 million
- Indian Premier League – 31 million
- MotoGP – 27 million
$25M: According to a report from the New York Times’ Marc Stein, the controversy with China could cost the Rockets that much this year.
62%: Since Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus in July 2018, Juventus FC has seen its social media followership increase by 62%, making it the fourth most popular soccer club in terms of social media following in the world with 85M fans on social media.
📸 The Upside: Snapshots of The Week
MLS coming to Sacramento? Major League Soccer is expected to announce this week that it is awarding an expansion team to a Sacramento investor group, making the California capital city the 29th franchise in the fast-growing league, sources with direct knowledge of the deal told The Sacramento Bee last Tuesday.
Virgin Galactic and Under Armour team up on spacesuits. Under Armour unveiled last week the spacesuits it is making for people to wear on flights to the edge of space with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
The companies are collaborating on a full line of spacewear for Virgin Galactic, which the companies claim as the first collection “created specifically for private astronauts.” The collection includes the spacesuit, a training suit, footwear and even a limited edition jacket.