Meta is releasing Super Bowl LVI-branded digital clothing through its new partnership with the NFL. Users across Meta’s social media platforms can now outfit their digital avatars with shirts representing the AFC champion Cincinatti Bengals and NFC champion Los Angeles Rams.  
Avatars can also be dressed in a third NFL option, a shirt with the Super Bowl LVI logo across its front. The digital shirts can be added through Feb. 28 for users to share their avatars across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and within Meta’s Oculus Quest virtual reality platforms. Meta’s NFL-branded outfits aim to “bring real-world fandom into the metaverse,” the social network said in a blog post. 
The new NFL digital clothing comes alongside broader avatar updates announced Monday by Meta, including new expressions, face shapes, skin tones, wheelchairs and hearing aid options for users to customize their digital identities. VR and Quest are a key part of that metaverse vision—but only a single piece of the whole. We see the metaverse as an interconnected digital world, one that bridges VR and AR, sure, but also more familiar platforms like your phone and computer,” Meta said Monday. 
The NFL’s partnership with Meta could eventually prove to be a steppingstone for the league to stream games in virtual reality. Both the NBA and MLB have existing deals with Meta to stream games in VR through Oculus Quest headsets. 
OpenSea, the NFT marketplace that valued itself at $13 billion after raising $300 earlier this month, has a fraud problem. The company said in a Twitter post on Thursday that more than 80% of NFTs created for free on its platform were either plagiarized from other artists or spam.
 The alarming figure is for tokens made using the free minting tool on OpenSea. Sports teams to have sold NFTs on the OpenSea marketplace include the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics and Washington Capitals—just to name a few. 
 OpenSea’s integrity issue comes amid a Barron’s report that says the White House is preparing to release a “national security” memorandum that will task federal agencies with regulating digital assets such as NFTs and cryptocurrencies. The sports world was recently burned by crypto fan token startup Iqoniq, which went into liquidation after missing millions in payments to its prushartners. 
 Alex Dreyfus, CEO of fellow crypto fan token platform Socios, said that Iqoniq “lied about their funding” and left more than $10 million in debt unpaid to its partnered clubs and leagues. “In 2022, there are 2 crypto companies spending money they don’t have, in football, motosports, etc and … will end up NOT PAYING and damaging again sports properties who don’t do enough due diligence,” Dreyfus wrote on LinkedIn. 
 Cracks in the crypto-verse are not yet slowing down the crypto craze in sports. On Friday, LeBron James announced a multi-year deal with Crypto.com to educate students in his I Promise school on blockchain technology. James’ Los Angeles Lakers, of course, now play at Crypto.com arena, while the upcoming Super Bowl will feature ads from both Crypto.com and FTX. Candy Digital, the NFT marketplace owned by Fanatics, just sold a Shohei Ohtani NFT for $100,000 — a record-breaking sale for a baseball-related non-fungible token.
Nike has deployed more than 1,000 robots to help process orders within its distribution centers. A recent post on Nike’s website detailed use of the robots alongside other innovations implemented by the company over the past two years due to the pandemic’s disruption of the global supply chain.
 The sportswear giant calls its automated workers “cobots” (short for collaborative robots) that assist Nike’s factory employees with sorting and packing products. The robots have helped Nike triple its digital order capacity in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa over the past two holiday seasons.
 “The challenges and constraints imposed by the pandemic have driven our teams to transform how we serve consumers through the implementation of new technology platforms, automation and process improvement in our operations,” Nike chief operating officer Andrew Campion said in a statement. 
 Prior to winter 2020, Nike’s North American production was centralized though its facilities in Memphis, TN. The company has since opened regional centers in Los Angeles, Bethlehem, Penn., and Dallas to diversify its operations. Nike’s new facilities have also been supported by demand-sensing and inventory optimization technology platforms that help predict consumer demand. 
 In a Jan. 6 earnings report, Nike said it lost about three months of production during the first quarter of fiscal 2022 because of government-mandated factory shutdowns in Vietnam and Indonesia due to Covid-19. During fiscal 2021, 51% of Nike footwear and 30% of Nike apparel was manufactured in Vietnam; while 24% of footwear and 12% of apparel was made in Indonesia. 
NBA All-Star Ben Simmons has joined NFT esports organization Perion DAO as a brand ambassador. Perion, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), includes NFT prizes within their games to reward higher-skilled players in a play-to-earn format. Simmons, an avid gamer, will help expand Perion’s user base as brand ambassador.
 “What Perion is doing is so important when it comes to getting more people involved and unleashing the competitive spirit of gamers all over the world,” Simmons said in a statement.
 Simmons, disgruntled with the Sixers organization, has not played in an NBA game this season and has asked to be traded from Philadelphia. Simmons now joins fellow Australian-born NBA player Josh Giddey to sponsor an NFT gaming company, following Giddey’s partnership with Crypto Gaming United.
Global sports and entertainment advisory company Legends has bought data analytics and digital media company 4Front. Legends’ Global Technology Solutions division will now be headed by 4Front co-founders Josh Kritzler as its new co-president and COO, and Dan Migala as co-president and CRO.
 4Front brings with it a long list of customers in the sports world, having consulted with Chelsea FC, the Chicago Bears, New York Mets, Oklahoma City Thunder and the NCAA. Legends has provided technical solutions for major venues across the sports world, including SoFi Stadium, Yankee Stadium and AT&T Stadium. The company’s solutions span venue management, ticket sales and fan experiences. 
 Legends partnered with the Professional Fighters League last year and received an equity stake in the league. Legends will oversee sponsorship, ticketing sales and venue operations for the league, as well as help develop a training venue.
Blind and low-vision fans can follow Australian Open matches through a new audio livestream called Action Audio. The broadcast converts data from Hawk-Eye’s ball-monitoring system into sounds to decipher on-court action, such as where a ball is being hit, ball speed and the type of swing—paired alongside play-by-play commentary and crowd sounds from the TV broadcast.   
A high-pitched beep will ring to indicate a forehand and low-pitched beep for a backhand. Another sound will ring when a ball strikes the sideline or baseline—three blips mean the ball is close to the line, two blips when the ball is farther away from the line and one blip when the ball hits the center of the court. A loud jingle rings when a player strikes the ball, which gradually fades away as the ball travels.  
Sounds come through the left speaker when the ball hits the left side of the court and the right speaker for right-side hits, so it is imperative for a user to have headphones or speakers that separate sounds from the left and right ear. Action Audio was initially trialed during the 2021 Australian Open finals; this is the first year all matches will be livestreamed throughout the tournament.  
“Everything is like, oh, yes, this is the final piece that I’m missing,” Michael Marshall, a vision-impaired tennis fan from Melbourne, told The New York Times. “It gives you those cues that you never really had before.”
Tennis Australia partnered with digital design agency AKQA and Monash University to develop the 3D sound system. The Australian Open’s Action Audio has drawn listeners from about 70 countries, according to the NYT.
Machar Reid, head of innovation at Tennis Australia, told the Times that he’d like to see Action Audio integrated into broadcasts for other sports that use optical tracking systems. MLB uses Hawk-Eye cameras to power its Statcast system, as well as its automated ball-strike system being tested in the minor leagues. The NBA, WNBA, and NFL are among other leagues using Hawk-Eye’s cameras. 
Newly-elected baseball Hall of Famer David Ortiz has been added to the talent roster for FameDays, a celebrity video app launching this spring. The app is being developed by augmented reality startup ImagineAR, which says Ortiz will be available on FameDays as a “Hologram E-Greeting.   
FameDays is similar to celebrity shoutout app Cameo, except fans will be able to purchase video messages and superimpose them into their own photos and recorded videos. The final image or video will look as if the celebrity and fan are together in a room and can be shared to social media from the FameDays app. 
ImagineAR shared a video of Ortiz in his “life-size hologram” state to display how he’ll appear on FameDays. The product is similar to the Dodger Dugout AR photobooth that fans can visit at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.  
Other athletes signed up for FameDays include New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, former MLB outfielder Johnny Damon, Los Angeles Rams linebacker Von Miller and Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus and wide receiver Courtland Sutton. The company expects to charge between $5-$20 per each message ordered by fans. 
A portion of sales from Ortiz’s e-greeting holograms will be donated to The David Ortiz Children’s Fund that provides financial support for children in the Dominican Republic and New England requiring critical cardiac services. ImagineAR also announced an agreement to develop a mobile AR app for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL Championship soccer league. 
 
The Hospital for Special Surgery, annually the top-ranked orthopedic care center, announced a strategic partnership with Sports Engineering, Inc. for the creation of injury risk-reducing footwear. 
SEI, which was born out of an innovation at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, has developed two products—the Smart Spring and Split Sole—on which HSS has been conducting research and validation studies. It became commercially available last summer. The goal of these technologies is to reduce the potential for lower limb injuries such as ACL tears, shin splints and other muscle and ligament sprains. 
HSS is equipped with a state-of-the-art Motion Analysis Lab, which uses 3D motion capture to assess joint movements and contact loads. The HSS faculty consists of numerous preeminent orthopedic surgeons. Among those directly involved with the SEI partnership is Dr. Mark Drakos, a foot and ankle specialist who is an assistant team orthopedist for the New York Knicks. HSS provides care for numerous individual pro athletes, as well as the New York Giants, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, New York Mets, New York Red Bull, New York Liberty, USA Basketball and several other teams and national governing bodies. 
U.S. Ski & Snowboard has announced a two-year partnership with footwear company Oofos. The deal makes Oofos the official footwear recovery supplier of the U.S. national ski, freeski and snowboard teams.
 Oofos will provide the team and its staff with its trademarked recovery footwear technology OOfoam, which the company claims absorbs 37% more impact than traditional footwear to reduce stress on joints. U.S. freestyle skier and four-time Olympian Ashley Caldwell will also join Oofos as a brand ambassador.
In 2021, Oofos partnered with the Premier Hockey Federation, formerly the National Women’s Hockey League, to provide players with its slide sandals and boots to be worn off-ice. U.S. Ski & Snowboard signed another recovery deal with NormaTec in 2019 to gain access to the company’s muscle massage devices.
As Kansas City Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes prevailed (barely) in an epic AFC divisional playoff game against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, his heart rate was generally higher not while he was playing—but while he was watching counterpart Josh Allen march the Bills up and down the field or while celebrating key plays. 
 The performance data of Mahomes, an investor in Whoop, showed that his heart rate averaged 144 beats per minute during the game and peaked at 191 during his first quarter touchdown run. During the 28 minutes of clock time—spanning the final 1:54 of the fourth quarter as well as overtime—his heart rate averaged nearly 160 bpm. 
 Otherwise, as noted by personal fitness coach Bobby Stroupe, Mahomes had especially lower heart rates during the huddle and pre-snap calls, which Stroupe labeled the “flow state.” According to Whoop, Mahomes had an overall caloric expenditure of 2,347 during the 4-hour, 17-minute game. His daily strain was a 20.4 on Whoop’s proprietary 0-to-21 scale. 
 Earlier this year, Whoop began partnering with individual athletes in other sports—such as PGA Tour golfers and NASCAR drivers—to broadcast heart rates during competition. LPGA Tour pro Nelly Korda also shared her biometric data while winning Olympic gold last summer. 
 
The Real Madrid TV streaming service has added an augmented reality viewing option through a new partnership between streaming company Cinedigm and AR glasses maker Nreal. Cinedigm partnered with the Spanish soccer club last year to launch Real Madrid TV in the U.S. and Canada.  
Nreal’s Light glasses contain two spatial computing cameras to project a virtual 220-inch HD display that the company compares to an IMAX theatre experience. Users must connect the glasses to their Android smartphone, which they then use as a controller to navigate their TV experience. Nreal partnered with Verizon in December to sell its AR glasses in the U.S. for $600. 
Real Madrid TV streams 2-to-3 matches per week during the La Liga season, as well as UEFA Champions League matches. The service is available in English and Spanish and also shares club news conferences, training sessions and classic match replays. Cinedigm’s partnership with Nreal will also offer AR viewing of two other non-sports streaming channels: CONtv and Bloody Disgusting TV. 
 

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