Another week comes and goes and it is once again time for VRFocus to bring you another edition of This Week in VR Sport. With a number of sports related virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) stories, this week has three stories that are sure to peak your interest. With multiple successful investments, a discussion on the market trends and the shuttering of some business divisions, let us dive right in.
Bob Higgins Of Causeway Media Partners Discusses Market Trends
Bob Higgins, one of the founding members of Causeway Media Partners, a growth-stage venture firm focusing on sports technology, sports media and related companies, recently sat down with SportTechie to talk about the future of the market and what his thoughts on a range of topics were. In the interview though, Higgins was asked if he thought AR and VR would become as big as people in the industry believe it will be. He answered saying: “Both technologies have vast potential. AR will continue to be adopted faster and more broadly than VR, especially with the recent advances in mobile AR development. Form factor improvements, such as stand-alone headsets, will help speed up VR growth.”
This was followed up by his predictions on the sports technology field stating: “In the last few years, advances in technology have enabled broadcasters, teams, and athletes to seamlessly capture new data. The interest in analytics continues to expand. In the years ahead, broader adoption of AI and machine learning will generate new data insights and benefit the sports industry in a number of ways, from stronger sponsorship measurement to improved player safety.”
Recently Causeway Media Partners closed a investment round of $211.3 million (USD) for its second round of funding which was way over its $175 million (USD) target. The company have invested in a number of business including recognizable brands such as Formula E, SeatGeek, SportsEngine, TuneIn and FloSports. With one of the founders setting their sights on the future of Sports technology, including AR and VR, it will be one to watch closely as the months pass and new products come to market.
LiveLike Sports Social VR Raises $9.6 Million In Funding
In case you missed it earlier this week, LiveLike announced that it had secured funding that would inject $9.6 million (USD) into research and development efforts. The VR applications allows fans a way to get closer to their favoutire sport by entering a ‘virtual suite’ that overlooks the play area. This VIP treatment is also designed to build social interaction with support for Facebook built into the application. Users are able to select their preferred camera angle, access stats, highlights or even replays and be in complete control of the broadcast.
The funding was led by Greycroft Partners and Lepe Partners, who join existing investor such as former NBA commissioner David Stern, Evolution Media, Courtside Ventures and Elysian Park in supporting the start-up. The company is playing to use the funding to expand partnerships alongside improving the product and platform to not only make it more accessible, but add exciting new features such as a Fantasy Sports league.
Intel Still Invested In Sports Technology Even With Wearables Business Shuttering
Intel has announced that it plans to shutter down its wearable business following a few years of unsuccessful numbers trying to get the products off the ground. Intel also mentioned that it is still heavily invested in the sports industry though, meaning products for that sector might continue to be developed.
Over the period of five years Intel attempted to build a wearable business by spending upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars (USD) on developing technologies for both consumer and business use. This includes fitness tracks and smart glasses, which the company has confirmed these divisions will be shutting down. Intel has been distancing itself for sometime from health tracks, even laying off roughly 80% of their Basis smartwatch team at the end of 2016 and shifted to focus on AR technology. However, the news means that the Vaunt smart glasses will also be cut off as well.
On the sports side of things though Intel say that they are still invested in the sector even with the news that they will be shutter a number of products. Within the sports sector Intel have been creating VR and AR content for a number of major events including the Winter Olympics and NCAA March Madness tournament. The future of the companies investment into VR and AR products, not just in the sports sector, is currently up in the air.