February 22, 2024

Online cycling app Zwift has begun selling Zwift Hub, a smart trainer that marks the gamified fitness company’s first hardware product. The Zwift Hub is priced at $499 and can mount to any stationary bike to create resistance while riding indoors.
The new smart trainer connects with the Zwift cycling app over ANT+ or Bluetooth so that data from the app’s virtual courses, such as the degree of incline and resistance, get transmitted to the user’s stationary bike. Users can open the Zwift app on their tablet or phone and place their screen in front of their bike to watch their avatar ride through Zwift’s multiplayer virtual worlds.
Zwift raised a $450 million Series C round in Sept. 2020 and its cycling software has been used to host esports cycling events for the International Olympic Committee, Tour de France, World Triathlon and the Union Cycliste Internationale. Zwift is also the title sponsor of two major women’s pro cycling tournaments, the Tour de France Femmes and Paris-Roubaix Femmes.
Goalies on the Toronto Maple Leafs are wearing Swivel Vision goggles during training camp drills to enhance their puck-tracking ability ahead of the upcoming NHL season. The no-lens goggles have rubber blinders to limit peripheral vision, forcing an athlete to move their head for optimal sight.
“It’s just a tracking aid, basically forcing you to use the middle of your eyes and the strongest part of your eyes,” Maple Leafs goaltender Matt Murray said according to the Toronto Star. “It gets you in the rhythm of turning your head, tracking the puck.”
“It narrows down your visuals on the sides. You’ve got to be even more precise tracking the puck,” added fellow Leafs goalie Erik Källgren. Swivel Vision sells its adjustable-strap worn googles for $29.99 on Amazon. The product has been used by athletes in other sports such as MLB catcher Yasmani Grandal and wide receivers on LSU’s football team. The Colorado Avalanche are among the other NHL teams to equip their goalies with Swivel Vision’s goggles during training.
More than half of U.S. Millennials (57%) will pick streaming as their method to watch the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar, according to a new study from telecommunications software firm Amdocs. The study consists of responses from 1,000 U.S. consumers aged 18 and over collected via an online survey conducted by data company Dynata.
The World Cup 2022 Viewing Report was commissioned by Amdocs, which works with telecommunications giants Samsung, AT&T, at T-Mobile. It found that:
82% of fans are confident in their home internet connection to stream the World Cup viewing, but 40% of fans think their mobile network isn’t reliable enough to stream games on-the-go via their phone.
Fox Sports owns the U.S. English-language broadcast and streaming rights to the World Cup. That includes real-time highlights, in-match previews and live pre-game shows for all games streamed on Twitter. The 2018 World Cup saw Fox Sports set several of the network’s streaming audience records.
Injured UFC fighters will have access to Lutronic’s Accufit technology, a post-surgical electro-muscular stimulation system that accelerates recovery by simulating gym workouts.
Emanating out of the UFC Performance Institutes in either Las Vegas or Shanghai, the Accufit treatments involve muscle activations otherwise known as waveforms which activate both concentric and eccentric contractions. The result is that recuperating MMA fighters can undergo exercise patterns without the physical strain of training, expediting their return to the Octagon.
Accufit’s proprietary energy delivery system can target multiple areas of a fighter’s body in brief 30-minute pain-free treatments. Its developers at Lutronic focus on smart laser and energy-based systems that are patented to enhance an athlete’s fitness, as well as ophthalmic and aesthetic procedures.
The UFC Performance Institute, which won SportTechie’s 2019 award for Outstanding Venue, has long tried to use technology to aid fighters’ training and recovery. It previously implemented Fusion Sport’s Smartabase athlete management system, allowing athletes to import data from a myriad of training technologies. The fighters were able to customize their training and view their progress through the Smartabase Athlete app.
Lumin Sports, an Australia-based athlete management system, has launched in the US market with five NCAA universities, including Rice and Cal State-Fullerton. 
The flagship product of Lumin Sports is Arc Core, which ingests the usual data inputs from technologies such as heart rate monitors, GPS and sleep trackers, and then creates reports with visualizations and analysis to help coaches with decisions around rest and recovery. Lumin Sports is a sister company to corporate wellbeing app Hoap and includes consideration of athletes’ mental health.
The idea for Lumin Sports was born out of a collaboration between a Tour De France cycling team, NTT Pro Cycling, and technology partner Dimension Data in 2018. It raised an oversubscribed funding round earlier this year of $1.15 million AUS ($750,000 USD) and drew support from retired AFL players Matthew Pavlich and James Begley. Among its early adopters overseas are Hawthorn Football Club, Adelaide United, Cycling Australia, the South Australian Sports Institute and the armed forces.
Gamification-based fan engagement startup LiveLike will begin offering crypto fan tokens to its sports industry partners through its new partnership with Chiliz, the parent company of the Socios fan token platform. LiveLike has become the first company to receive a grant to join Chiliz Chain 2.0, the new blockchain ecosystem offered by the Malta-based company.
LiveLike has previously worked with teams and leagues such as the NBA, Golden State Warriors, NASCAR, and La Liga, as well as broadcasters such as Madison Square Garden Networks, Fox Sports, Turner Sports, Canal+ and Sky Group. Trivia, polls, prediction games, watch parties and leaderboards are among the features LiveLike integrates into the apps of their partners. Fans earn points for engaging with the features, and now LiveLike can integrate Socios fan tokens to further support fan loyalty programs.
“We were going to their [Socios’s] partners independently and saying LiveLike will provide you an audience engagement platform to help create communities in your owned and operated apps, it’ll help you engage your fans better, create loyalty programs,” LiveLike CEO Miheer Walavalkar told SportTechie. “The fan token is sort of the endpoint of what that journey would have been. So this way, we sort of bring it together and go to partners together.”
Socios has made fan tokens for some of the world’s biggest soccer teams, including FC Barcelona, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, and Juventus, in which token owners get exclusive access to rewards and in-person experiences. LiveLike’s partnership will enable the Socios fan token ecosystem to expand beyond the Socios app and directly into partnered team apps.
“The big value point for a fan token in the future isn’t just going to be determined by the size of the Socios.com platform, but the entire ecosystem of how many different areas, apps, websites, retailers, outlets — can you plug in this one single digital membership, and accrue benefits from them?” said Max Rabinovitch, chief strategy officer at Socios.
Socios also has deals with 27 NBA teams, 26 MLS clubs, 14 NFL teams, and 13 NHL teams. However, the company’s U.S. partnerships to date have mostly been held to marketing and fan rewards programs that don’t yet involve fan tokens.
“[In the U.S.] it’s almost a very binary experience where it’s either a yes or no to team level, league level tokenization,” Rabinovitch said. “You don’t get to go piecemeal the way we did in Europe where you can go to just Barcelona, you can go to just PSG. You don’t have to ask permission from their respective leagues in order to do something with the team.”
Several youth basketball organizers in Southern California have signed on to use age verification software created by Sports Thread, a Denver-based company best known for its socially-driven, youth sports community app.
Sports Thread Play Safe is an automated platform that verifies birth certificates, driver’s licenses, passport and other forms of identification in order to ensure eligibility. Upon confirmation of age, the participating athlete will receive a QR code in his or her profile for use at check-in. In addition to forgeries for playing down at younger age groups, this also adds additional surveillance to help ensure athletes don’t play for multiple teams in the same tournament.
Among the early adopters of Play Safe are the SoCal Aces, Focus Basketball, Gameday Sports Academy, Cali Elite, West Coast Warriors and BlackTop 24/7. Also available to these groups are additional tools from Sports Thread, including team registration, scheduling and e-ticketing.
Next League, the sports tech services firm that emerged last year with a NASCAR partnership, has made its first executive promotion by naming Becki Civello as Chief Operating Officer.
Civello was originally hired this year as Next League’s VP, Strategic Operations after spending close to a decade at OMNIGON/Infront X alongside Next League CEO and co-founder David Nugent. As COO at Next League, Civello is expected to run the company’s business operations.
Founded in December of 2021, Next League’s mission is to assist teams and leagues with technology services. In particular, the company has assisted NASCAR with fan engagement. Nugent previously told SportTechie last year he wants to guide teams and leagues through the digital transformation presented by Web3.  
With Nugent at OMNIGON, Civello was in charge of the firm’s global commercial strategy that included business development, account management and marketing. Nugent also told SportTechie last year that he intends for New York-based Next League to have a “for us, by us’’ approach, with clients partaking in newsletters, podcasts, events and white papers.
Part of Next League’s business plan is to provide product design and software to help teams and leagues address their digital media and fan engagement platforms, as well as advise clients who are strategizing to enter the sports betting industry. This past September, the company completed a growth investment round led by venture fund TLI Bedrock.
Chelsea FC has named AiScout its official academy research partner as part of a five-year agreement that will incorporate the digital scouting app into its recruitment process. The AiScout platform will begin holding trials for aspiring Chelsea players from age 6 to 21+ before the end of the year.
AiScout uses artificial intelligence, including Intel’s markerless motion capture 3D Athlete Tracking technology, to generate physical data on underscouted players. Premier League clubs Chelsea and Burnley FC have both been R&D partners for AiScout, which is the only scouting app to be enrolled in FIFA’s Innovation Program.
“That’s really about the opportunity for talent recruitment at scale that you can’t do involving humans,” Chelsea’s head of research and innovation, Ben Smith, told SportTechie two months ago.
At the time, Chelsea was completing its validation of AiScout and comparing its performance models to the club’s subjective assessments. Of the potential for the app once that was confirmed, Smith said, “Then we have something that we know we can trust and we can use at the scale that technology and data allows to produce some some really exciting opportunities because we can get into areas that, from a resource point of view, you wouldn’t prioritize because maybe they’re not typically high talent zones.
“But actually, the nature of talent development can be a bit random. So if we can have a technology to work at scale across vast areas, then our scope and our reach is potentially very substantial.”
Among the early success of AiScout is Ben Greenwood, who was one of the first 50 to download the app. His uploaded data caught the attention of Chelsea, which invited him to join its under-18 team on a trial basis. Greenwood later signed with Premier League club AFC Bournemouth.
“There was a lack of context, there was a lack of objectivity to youth and amateur sport. How do we bring an access-for-all, objective approach to talent identification?” Richard Felton-Thomas, AiScout’s COO and director of sport science, said over the summer about the app’s mission to democratize scouting. “What we know [scouts] do—like any business, really—is work the same networks year in year out. ‘I found a player in x location, I’ll go back to X location next year.’ So what we want to do is actually give a broader picture, save some travel time and don’t go to that location if you don’t know what exists there.”
Four days following the Ohio launch of the Bally Sports+ app, the Cleveland Cavaliers are granting complementary game streams to cord-cutters who are Cavs United season ticket holders, foundation members or corporate partners.
Up until the launch of the app, Cavalier fans could only watch the team’s games live — broadcast by Bally Sports Ohio — through a third-party TV provider such as cable, satellite or the only streaming service available in the state, DirecTV Stream. But as a direct-to-consumer streaming app, Bally Sports+ provides cord-cutters with a suitable option.
However, with the app priced at $19.99 a month or $189.99 a year, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert on Friday incentivized fans to join Cavs United — a team membership platform — by offering Bally Sports+ game streams for free to members who have partial or full season tickets.
The Ohio Bally Sports+ app will also broadcast games for the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL and the Columbus Crew of the MLS. The subscription streaming service became available in all of the Bally Sports’ 19 markets on Sept. 26 after originally debuting in Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, Tampa and Wisconsin over the summer.
Cavs owner Gilbert has been an active investor in streaming and technology through his Detroit Venture Partners and, in May, was part of a group that funded the smart dumbbells startup, Kabata.
Virtual cycling app MyWhoosh has been named a global partner and official virtual training plan of the upcoming World Triathlon Championship Finals in Abu Dhabi. MyWhoosh will host triathlon-specific virtual training events on its app and receive brand exposure at the governing body’s biggest race, which takes place Nov. 23-26.
A digital version of the bike course in Abu Dhabi has been added to MyWhoosh’s free cycling app, which also offers more than 700 workouts across virtual routes of varying inclines and distances for users to stream while riding their stationary bike trainers for an immersive indoor experience. The app will host a social group ride leading up to the Finals in which users can follow each other’s progress through their on-screen avatars.
MyWhoosh is marketed as a free alternative to Zwift, the subscription-based virtual cycling app that title sponsors the women’s Tour de France and hosts esports cycling competitions with World TriathlonMyWhoosh also sponsors UAE Team Emirates and their star cyclist Tadej Pogańćar, who won the men’s Tour de France in 2020 and 2021. 


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