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📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week
🥽 North’s Focals smartglasses add Android notification support
👓 NFL celebrates 100th season with Snapchat AR Lens that comes to life
⌚️ The Google Pixel Watch could feature a camera built into the watch face
⌚️ Apple Watch Series 5 could be announced on 10 September
👟 Nike brings laceless sneaker controls to the Apple Watch
🎮 Pizza Hut debuts “first” virtual stadium deal for MaddenNFL Tournament
💸 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
🥽 North’s Focals smartglasses add Android notification support | Via: Wearable
North has arguably made some of the only smartglasses that people are actually likely to wear – its Focals are stylish and comfortable as well as smart.
Well, they just got a little smarter, with the addition of support for Android notification actions – first spotted by 9to5Google. The glasses will now be able to take advantage of any actions that developers have built into their notifications.
To activate the setting, head to the Experiments section of the Focals app, which will let you click any notification to expand it and access potential actions.
That means even less need to reach for your phone when you get a notification. Sadly, though, the support isn’t extending to iOS users for now. You can read our full review of North’s Focals to see if they could suit you.
⬆️ The Upside: We believe that this move by North makes sense. However, we still believe that the North’s Focals glasses are still limited in terms of functionalities. Plus North has gone through some financial difficulties as it laid off 40% of its staff. So it still unclear if North has what it takes to compete in the smart glass market dominated by players like Microsoft (Hololens), Google and others who have deep pockets.
👓 NFL celebrates 100th season with Snapchat AR Lens that comes to life | Via: Engadget
The National Football League and Snap have made another augmented reality experience together. In celebration of the NFL’s 100th season, which kicks off on September 5th, the companies are unveiling an AR Lens that lets people scan an NFL 100 logo and bring it to life inside the Snapchat app. The feature uses Snap’s Marker technology, introduced in 2018, to let people use their Snapchat camera to unlock a special video created by the NFL. After scanning an NFL 100 logo, the video will show historic highlights between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, the two teams that are playing the first game of the 2019-2020 season next Thursday. And right beneath the video, as pictured above, there’s a clock counting down the days, hours and minutes to the beginning of the NFL 100 season.
According to Snap, the NFL 100 AR Lens will be geofenced to the Greater Chicago area starting September 5th, meaning that only people there will see it pop up on their Lens carousel in Snapchat. That said, users throughout the US can also checkout the experience by simply scanning a Snapcode or the NFL 100 logo. Like with the rest of Snapchat’s augmented reality creation tools, such as the new Landmarkers, what’s going to make this NFL Lens fun for people is that they can use it to turn 2D objects into virtual experiences. Snap Marker is essentially a cutting-edge version of a QR code, which lets you do things like point your Snapchat camera at a physical mural of LeBron James and then, a second later, you’re watching him dunk the ball on your smartphone’s screen.
Blake Stuchin, the NFL’s vice president of Digital Media Business Development, told Engadget in an interview that the league wanted to build this AR experience for Snapchat users to give them another way to express their fandom. Not only that, but he said it is a natural extension of the work the NFL has been doing with Snapchat, a partnership that started in 2015 and includes a variety of football shows the league has created for the app.
“There is a depth of engagement [on Snapchat],” Stuchin said. “For example, ahead of Super Bowl [LIII], we created a sticker pack of the [two] teams a week before [the game], with limited promotion, and it was viewed more than 303 million times in Snapchat.”
Aside from the AR Lens, the league will bring back its NFL highlights show for Snapchat, which Stuchin said has over 2 million viewers per week during last season. In the future, he said, the plan is to broaden the theme of the NFL’s new Snapchat AR Lens and make it work with more than just this season’s kick-off game, including Super Bowl rematches, rivalries and other select NFL 100 games. For Snap, meanwhile, the ongoing partnership with the NFL proves yet again that the company is going to continue using augmented reality to try to reach different audiences, as it as done with other powerful brands including the NBA, Adidas and Nike.
⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a great move by the NFL. It will help improve the fans experience, bring new sponsors and help the league further drive its top line. This type of mobile AR experience clearly demonstrate how AR can be fully monetize and improve the fans experience. We expect other major sports leagues to follow suit and build similar mobile AR experiences.
Picture: NFL, Snap
🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News
⌚️ The Google Pixel Watch could feature a camera built into the watch face | Via: Wearable
Google may be planning to include a built-in camera in its long-awaited smartwatch, the Pixel Watch.
The Mountain View giant’s patent – spotted by LetsGoDigital, who also created the above render – was granted this week after being filed back in 2017, detailing a design with a single-lens camera in the centre of the watch’s display.
The patent features seven sketches that show what Google is imagining – a smartwatch with a camera mounted behind its watch face display, able to take pictures through the glass. However, just how exactly it would run its Wear OS platform over (or perhaps around) the camera in a display is not described.
We’ve been tracking details of the Pixel Watch for several years, and this patent filing is yet another addition to the list of potential features that the watch could finally arrive with.
Save for the Samsung Gear 2, launched back in 2015, none of the major smartwatch players have offered a camera in a watch, so Google would be taking a considerable gamble here. However, it’s perhaps worth noting that Google’s line of Pixel phones has so far stuck to single-lens cameras. That may change in the Google Pixel 4, but it still means even a picture taken through the glass of a watch could end up with impressive detail and color, given Google’s pedigree on this front.
However, naturally, this is only a patent filing – one with design features that we imagine are extremely unlikely to make it to a final product. As it was also drawn up back in 2017, this could be an idea the company has moved on from, too.
There’s still, remember, a very real possibility we don’t see a Pixel Watch at all, as well. While it’s still possible Google launches its first own-brand smartwatch before the end of 2019 – and it has made moves that suggest wearable hardware is coming, such as buying $40m worth of intellectual property from Fossil – we’re still waiting for concrete leaks over a release date, prototypes and features.
⬆️ The Upside: We believe that adding a camera to the Pixel watch would be a nice improvement and a great way for Google to differentiate its offering. That being said it will remain a challenge for Google to effectively compete against Apple in the smartwatch space.
⌚️ Apple Watch Series 5 could be announced on 10 September | Via: Wearable
Never one to avoid a bit of stage management, Apple has confirmed what was heavily rumored – that the date of its next product event will be 10 September, at its headquarters in Cupertino.
The event is likely to see the reveal of some new iPhone models, but we’re more interested in whether the next installment of the Apple Watch will be there, too. There have been rumors aplenty regarding the Apple Watch Series 5, and it looks a lot like some ceramic and titanium models are on the way, but we won’t know for sure until the event.
Will these be updated Series 4 models, or are we in for a full update to the Apple Watch line? We’ll be on the ground in California to let you know.
⬆️ The Upside: We expect Apple to announce a new Apple Watch with very incremental improvements. Quite frankly this strategy has paid off and they have become the most dominant smartwatch maker in the world over the past few years.
👟 Nike brings laceless sneaker controls to the Apple Watch | Via: Wearable
Since its Back to the Future concepts a few years ago, Nike’s been continuing to further develop its laceless sneaker tech, and now the company has announced it will bring control over the feature to the Apple Watch.
Its new Adapt Huarache shoes, a reimagining of the Huarache line from the early nineties, features its FitAdapt system to allow for control over the tightness of fit through a companion app. Now, for the first time, owners will be able to use their Apple Watch and Siri to control the sneakers. This means they won’t have to pull their phone out any time they want to adjust the fit or take the shoes off.
If self-lacing shoes are nice and sci-fi, not having to be tethered to your phone is a further step towards the ideal. Owners of other smartwatch brands will have to find their own solutions, though, for now.
⬆️ The Upside: We believe this is a nice incremental improvement from Nike. It enhance the user experience and allowing Nike Adapt Huaraches shoes owners to be able to control the tightness of fit from a companion app on an Apple Watch and Siri makes a lot of sense.
🎮 eSports & Crypto-Currency News
🎮 Pizza Hut debuts “first” virtual stadium deal for MaddenNFL Tournament | Via: Front Office Sports
Pizza Hut is doubling down its football footprint after scoring a deal with EA Sports as the official sponsor of the Madden NFL 20 Championship Series, which is an esports event where fans of the popular video game compete throughout the season for a chance to win nearly $200,000.
As part of the deal, Pizza Hut will have its own virtual stadium, making it the “first-ever virtual stadium deal in esports,” according to the restaurant chain. Although the move comes just a year after Pizza Hut became the official sponsor of the NFL, it also arrives at a time when brands are increasingly marketing their products through competitive online video games, with hopes of getting their message across to an audience that many say is difficult to reach.
“Gamers used to be seen as the guys in the basement sitting alone, eating pizza and crushing Mountain Dew,” says Marianne Radley, chief brand officer at Pizza Hut. “It’s different now. Today, it is about community. It’s modern, high-tech and there’s elite competition. It’s evolved, so who doesn’t want to be a part of that?”
“Pizza Hut Stadium” will make its virtual debut this weekend, days before the NFL kicks off its regular season on Sept. 5. The company will promote the tournament through Madden’s official Twitch and YouTube channels with commentary similar to that found in real NFL games.
Radley says beyond driving brand relevancy and consideration, Pizza Hut doesn’t have any key performance indicators—or KPIs—for the Madden sponsorship, arguing that the deal is more about being a natural fit with the Pizza Hut brand. “Pizza and sports go hand-in-hand,” she says. “Pizza and esports go hand-in-hand.”
“There is a moment happening in terrestrial sports, esports, pop culture, brands and influencers—they are all converging,” Radley says. “This is a natural place for us. So from a KPI standpoint, there is none.”
The Madden NFL 20 Championship Series begins this weekend and then picks up again during the playoffs. Gamers who advance will compete once again during the Super Bowl and later, the NFL Draft, where the winner will be crowned.
⬆️ The Upside: We think this is a great move by Pizza Hut, which has become a key player in the esports scene or just sports in general. Pizza Hut will be able to benefit from the growing popularity of eSports.
Picture: Pizza Hut
💸 Sports Investment Trends — August, 2019
- Formula 1 Race Winners Rubens Barrichello and Juan Pablo Montoya invest in millennial Esports. Read on here.
- BITKRAFT Esports Ventures leads the Ready Games’ $5M Series A Funding. Read on here.
- Pittsburgh Knights raise investment from Esports MX LATAM Fund. Read on here.
📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week
$3.47B: An investor group, including the New York Yankees, has closed on a deal to acquire the YES Network from Disney for $3.47B. The Yankees already owned 20% of the network, which broadcasts the team’s games, as the investor group takes on the remaining 80% from Disney. YES Network also owns rights to the Brooklyn Nets.
-$195.6M: Peloton is still losing money, according to Peloton’s latest SEC filing ahead of its IPO. In its fiscal 2019 year, Peloton generated $915 million but incurred net losses of $195.6 million. In its fiscal 2018 year, Peloton generated $435 million but incurred net losses of $47.9 million. In the filing, Peloton stated that “we have incurred operating losses in the past, expect to incur operating losses in the future, and may not achieve or maintain profitability in the future.”
$10M: Tony Romo’s three-year CBS contract expires after the 2019 NFL season. The former NFL QB and current TV analyst’s reps at Creative Artists Agency are seeking a hefty raise to $10M annually from his current $4 million-a-year pact, said sources. If Romo becomes the first sports analyst to earn an eight-figure contract, he’d eclipse even Madden, who earned $8M during his 1990’s heyday, according to The Ringer.
1.4M: Peloton states that the company has more than 1.4M members, with 92% of people who bought one of its interactive fitness equipment still having an active subscription as of June 30.
577,000: As of that date, Peloton had sold approximately 577,000 connected fitness products, with approximately 564,000 of those purchasers residing in the U.S.
49,504: US Women soccer team sets highest attendance record (49,504) in team history during last week’s friendly in Philadelphia.
69%: According to research by SRi, 69% of video game enthusiasts feel that sponsorship dollars are essential to the continued existence of esports tournaments.
📸 The Upside: Snapshots of The Week
Spill the Wine: NFL Clubs Pushing Team-Branded Wine Collections. As the NFL prepares to kick off its historic 100th season, teams such as the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers and New York Jets are marketing their own wine collections to fans. If you revere ex-Colts QB Peyton Manning, there’s a limited edition No. 18 bottle autographed by the man himself for $400. If your tastes are less expensive, you can buy a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon celebrating the Colts’ 35th year in Indianapolis for $19.95.
RedBull in-store activation. French supermarket, Carrefour has an in-store Red Bull display and activation setup.