Last month was a busy month in the world of sports and technology. In the world of soccer, the European soccer championship saw some major upsets, with France the current World champion, being defeated against Switzerland. Italy won its first International trophy in 15 years by beating England in the final. Of note it’s been 55 years since England has not won a major international trophy in soccer. Messi also won its first international trophy after beating Brazil in the Copa America Final. In Tennis, Roger, now 40 years old, reached the quarter finals of Wimbledon while Djokovic shocked the world at the French by winning the title and beating Rafael Nadal along the way, and by winning Wimbledon this weekend. Djokovic has now won 20 grand slams, and is now tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal accounting for 20 each as well.
With 12 days to go before the Tokyo Olympics begin, it is set to be another busy month. There is no doubt in our mind that emerging technologies could have a major impact on athletes’ performance, recovery and injury prevention during these upcoming Olympics. It will be interesting to watch!
In the world of AR/VR and digital, Facebook granted patent for ‘artificial reality’ baseball cap. In the world of wearables, Peloton is now working on a heart rate wearable while Facebook is allegedly working on a Facebook smartwatch that could have two cameras when it lands in 2022. In addition Fitbit is rumored to be working on a Fitbit smart ring. It is also worth pointing out that people are now going back to the gym. In fact, SoulCycle CEO recently said that as a result of that SoulCycle New York’s new membership sales increased 55% last May. In the blockchain/NFT world, the NFT market continues to gain strong momentum, with non-fungible tokens collectively making $2.5B in total sales in 1H21, up from $13.7 million in sales over the same period last year.
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Top Stories We’re Reading This Week
⭐ Upside Analysis: Why there needs to be a focus on higher quality sports tech startups
⭐ Upside Product Reviews of the Month: Fullpower Technologies, Sana Health
⭐ Upside VC Profile of the Month: Courtside Ventures
How NFTs are monetizing sports teams and athletes’ fanbases
Facebook granted patent for ‘artificial reality’ baseball cap.
Peloton is working on a heart rate wearable
Facebook smartwatch could have two cameras when it lands in 2022
Fitbit smart ring is coming?
Startup investment recap (June/July 2021)
Tech Stats of the month
Snapshots of the Week
Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories
⭐ Upside Analysis: Why there needs to be a focus on higher quality sports tech startups
With a sports tech industry valued at $11B, there has been an increasing focus from pro teams and leagues on sports tech startups over the year. But like most industries, sports teams and leagues are being approached by a myriad of sports tech startups. Unfortunately, most of those sports organizations do not have an effective way to truly vet those startups. Many of those sports tech startups, on the other end, often times do not have a solid business model as well as the ability or desire to go beyond the sports sector in order to scale their business. In this analysis we will analyze the state of the sports tech industry, and what needs to happen for sports tech startups to build a scalable business beyond sports.
To Read the full Upside analysis, click here.
⭐ Upside Product Reviews of the Month
Upside video peer reviews of sleep tech company Fullpower Technologies:
This video review is featuring Philippe Khan / CEO, Arthur Kinsolving / CTO of Fullpower Technologies, and top sports performance experts (Derek Lawrance, Director of Health and Performance at SJ Earthquakes/MLS, Daniel Hayes, Former Performance Director at LA Dodgers / MiLB; Brian Lee, Director, Sports Medicine at the LA Galaxy (MLS); Skylar Richards, Director of Physiology & Performance at Orlando City FC / MLS). Please note that at the time of this video review, Brian Lee was the Sports Medicine, Program Manager of Sports Medicine at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He now works for the LA Galaxy. Daniel Hayes also no longer works for the LA Dodgers.
You have a sports tech product and want to have reviews from top pro teams? You are a sports execs (athletic trainer, CTO..) and want to see reviews of vetted products from your peers, email us at email@example.com or join the Upside pro community here.
⭐ Upside VC Profile of the Month
Read the full profile of Courtside Ventures and Vasu Kulkarni’s interview here.
NFT Sports News
How NFTs are monetising sports teams and athletes’ fanbases | Via : Insider Sport
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have quickly become established as a new means of fan engagement in the sporting space, with various high-profile teams and organisations rolling out their own digital collectibles. As NFTs begin to skyrocket with teams and leagues testing the waters of the innovative collectibles, Insider Sport breaks down the new means of revenue with the help of Amrit Kumar, President and Chief Scientific Officer at Zilliqa.
IS: Do you want to start by providing a rundown of what exactly NFTs are and the value they provide?
AK: NFTs are basically digital assets that sit on a blockchain, and the benefit of creating this blockchain is that for one, you can know who created the NFT and who is the owner of that NFT and at the same time, every time the NFT gets transferred from one person to another one, you can actually have that trail and that trail is established by the blockchain.
⬆️ The Upside: NFT in sports has been getting a lot of attention in the world of pro sports in the coming months with many leagues (NBA, NFL..), athletes (LeBron James, Patrick Mahomes..) launching their own NFT collections. One of the biggest success stories is the NBA’s Top Shot sales, which accounted for US$500 million in transactions in the first three months of the year. This was a third of the total US$1.5 billion in NFT transactions, according to DappRadar, which tracks blockchain markets. In our view, there is almost too much hype about the NFT sports market right now. Today many NFT sports startups have not built solid business models. This will be a key success factor for vendors to build a sustainable business long term.
Picture: NBA Top Shot
AR/VR/Video/Digital Sports News
Facebook granted patent for ‘artificial reality’ baseball cap. | Via : The Register
Facebook has been awarded a US patent titled “Artificial reality hat,” which consists of a display screen that hangs from the brim of a cap, as if it were a havelock worn backward. And the social ad biz applied for this patent fully aware of the failure of Google Glass, augmented reality eyewear that Google announced rather spectacularly in 2012, only to abandon in 2015 after recognizing its costly, conspicuous specs served no unique useful function in the consumer market, looked foolish, and often alienated people thanks to the behavior of glassholes – a term the Chocolate factory hated but eventually adopted. As Facebook sees it – with the benefit of hindsight and making no mention of its $2bn Oculus VR headset acquisition or related investments – eyewear has obvious problems not found in headwear.
“Manufacturers of artificial-reality systems have traditionally focused on various eyewear-based form factors, such as glasses and goggles,” Facebook’s patent explains. “Conventional artificial reality glasses and goggles, however, are sometimes thick, heavy, and unbalanced and/or may generate excessive heat that is uncomfortable against a user’s skin.”
⬆️ The Upside: We think this is an interesting move by Facebook. Facebook is gearing up to introduce consumer graded AR glasses in the next 24 months. For Facebook it will be key to offer AR consumer glasses that are esthetically pleasing, light weight, affordable ($300-$400), have long battery life, scalable optics. It will also be critical for Facebook to have very transparent privacy guidelines in order to avoid another Google glass fiasco. Next year, based on our intel, other key players are set to enter the AR consumer glasses market. This will fuel innovation and benefit consumers long term.
Wearables, Health, Nutrition News
Peloton is working on a heart rate wearable | Via : Wareable
Fitness giant Peloton is preparing a wearable heart rate tracking device to use on its home workout platform. That’s according to a Bloomberg report, which references mentions in the company’s iOS app code. According to the report the company is prepping a heart rate monitoring armband, which would sync to its bikes and treadmills. It would have a small screen to show battery levels, but other than that would keep things fairly simple.
The device would also connect to the company’s iPad and iPhone app, which could mean a future closer to Apple Fitness+. This is all pretty unsurprising after it emerged earlier this year that the company had bought Atlas Wearables, which had produced the Atlas Wristband. That device was an awkward, unwieldy tracker of gym reps – so its technology and manufacturing seems as if it would be the bedrock for a reimagined device.
⬆️ The Upside: We think this would be a good by Peloton. It is worth pointing out that the former CEO of Atlas Wearables is now the head of AI at Peloton. With that in mind, we believe that Peloton will focus on offering a HR wearable device that will provide actionable health insights to Peloton users. This will help Peloton offer a differentiated product. We also expect the Peloton wearable to have a gamification feature, similar to the one offered on the Peloton platform, which will enable users to compete in real time and compare their performance in real time. This will help the daily engagement and stickiness of the upcoming Peloton wearable device.
Facebook smartwatch could have two cameras when it lands in 2022 | Via : Wareable
Facebook loves putting cameras on things – and it seems its smartwatch will be no different. In a report by The Verge, which is based on anonymous conversations with “people familiar with the project”, it’s alleged the forthcoming Facebook smartwatch will have two cameras built into the body.
Apparently the smartwatch will be designed to be removed from a stainless steel wrist strap to take snaps on the go, which can then be uploaded to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. The front-facing camera will be designed or video calling, while there will be a 1080p camera on the rear for more serious photography. And, according to the report, Facebook is trying to recruit partners to support clipping this camera module to things like backpacks, in what seems a return to the idea of lifelogging that was all the rage in 2014. And it seems the Facebook Watch will hook up with its other wearable tech project – Facebook AR glasses. The Verge reports that Facebook is planning for future iterations of the watch to be a controller for AR experiences. Facebook is planning to release its smartwatch in 2022, and reports have also circulated that it could cost as much as $400.
⬆️ The Upside: This should not come as a surprise to see Facebook working on new hardware product. What Facebook is trying to do here is to create an AR hardware ecosystem (AR glasses, AR hat, AR watch as controller…) that will become very sticky over time. This is also part of Facebook’s big plan to create its own consumer hardware products to better compete against the Apple, Samsung, Amazon of the world. Now will Facebook succeed over time? So far, Facebook’s efforts are paying off as Facebook is currently the market leader in VR with 35% of market share. With 30% of its workforce working on AR/VR products, Facebook is also investing heavily in the space to make it happen. We also expect Facebook to continue to acquire AR/VR startups to strengthen its AR/VR/hardware strategy.
Fitbit smart ring is coming? | Via : Medhealthnews
Fitbit appears to be considering a new form for its health monitoring wearables based on a new patent registration filed last month.
The Google-owned wearable-maker shared insights into a “ring for optically measuring biometric data” such as blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), pulse, blood pressure, glucose levels and more. The filing focused on the SpO2 measurement features of the smart ring because the finger is the most common place to collect this data in clinical settings, according to Sensors. This measurement is taken by shining a light through the finger skin and blood vessels to a photodetector on the other side.
⬆️ The Upside: We think it would be a good move by Fitbit (now part of Google). There has been a lot of attention lately in the smart ring market due to the recent momentum of startups like Oura Health who signed deals with the NBA, NASCAR, the UFC, just to name a few. Fitbit’s other likely competitor there is Motiv. By doing so, it would help Fitbit further diversify its product offering with non invasive products like smart ring. Smart ring are a great new factor which allows pro teams to better monitor their players’ performance and recovery. Smart rings have also gained adoption lately in the context of COVID-19. In fact some athletes that used the Oura Ring were able to detect early signs of COVID-19 symptoms by tracking their sleep quality or temperature via the Oura ring.
Sports Tech & Health Investment Recap — June/July 2021
Here is the recap of the major sports startups’ investment in June/July 2021:
Source: Upside, 2021
Sports tech M&A in June/July 2021:
- Endeavor China completed its $60 million acquisition of digital sports agency Mailman Group.
- ABG purchased Sports Illustrated from Meredith for $110 million in 2019 after SI recorded millions in ad revenue losses.
Key Tech Sports Stats of The Month
$211B: Jeff Bezos is now worth a record $211 billion.
$25B: Total costs for the Tokyo Olympics could reach $25 billion. Japan is projecting ticket revenue to reach $830 million.
$5B: Pokemon GO’ made $5 Billion in 5 years. Revenue jumped to $1.2 billion in 2020, a 41% increase from 2019. This year is set to be the best year ever for “Pokemon GO,” with 2021 revenue already up 34% from last year.
$2.5B: The NFT market is as hot as ever, with non-fungible tokens collectively making $2.5 billion in total sales in the first half of 2021. That figure shows explosive growth from the $13.7 million in sales over the same period last year. NFT sales grew to $81.1 million in the latter half of 2020, and then achieved exit velocity with NBA TopShot.
$1.38B: A 2018 study found that spending in England due to the European soccer championship rose by over $1.38 billion during the 2018 World Cup, which was played in Russia. France, which hosted the UEFA Euro 2016, generated $1.44 billion in economic activity from the tournament. UEFA made $1 billion in net revenue.
$250M: According to Forbes, the market value of Martin Braithwaite (Barca soccer player)’s business, also held with his uncle, is estimated at more than $ 250 million (212M euros).
$175M: The Ultimate Fighting Championship inked a 10-year, $175 million deal with Crypto.com that will put the trading platform’s branding on fighters’ apparel, training staff clothing, and in the Octagon fighting ring.
19.4M: Italy and Spain’s semifinal match, which Italy won on penalty kicks, drew an average of 19.4 million viewers in Italy and 11.7 million in Spain.
55%: SoulCycle CEO Webster says over 50% of SoulCycle’s locations are now open after many were forced to close during the pandemic. SoulCycle’s closures led to $350 million in losses last year. In May, the company said New York’s new membership sales had increased 55%.
20: After winning his 20th grand slam this weekend, Djokovic is now tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
9: PSG will soon have 9 goalies under contract when Donnarumma officially signs for PSG.
1: Messi won his first ever international trophy this weekend after beating Brazil in the Copa America final.
Snapshots of the Week
NASA adidas shoes. Here are some new adidas shoes designed for NASA. Credit: Danny Dance (www.dannydancedesign.com)
True friendship. Messi & Neymar after the match at the Copa America.