This Week In VR Sport: Investments, Trendsetting And Business Shuttering

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

Causeway Media Partners CoFounders

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.

You can read the full story here and VRFocus will be sure to bring you all the latest on LiveLike as it develops.

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.

That is all for This Week In VR Sport. For more on immersive sport news keep reading VRFocus and remember to check back next week for another This Week In VR Sport.

The VR Job Hub: Programmers, Artist And Testers Needed This Easter Sunday

Its the start of a new month as April rolls in bringing with it the joys of Easter and plenty of chocolate. Why not start your month off with a new exciting job opportunity with another entry of The VR Job Hub.

Every weekend VRFocus gathers together a number open position from across the virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) industry, in locations around the globe, to help make finding the ideal job easier. Below are a selection of roles that are currently accepting applications across a number of disciplines, all within departments and companies that focus on VR, AR and MR.

Location

Company

Role

Link

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK Luminous Group Ltd Virtual Reality Sales Executive

Click Here to Apply

Guildford, UK

Supermassive Games

Senior Game Programmer

Click Here to Apply

Guildford, UK

Supermassive Games

Graphics Programmer

Click Here to Apply

Menlo Park, CA, US

Facebook

UX Engineer, Social VR

Click Here to Apply

Las Vegas, NV, US

The VOID VR Tech Lead

Click Here to Apply

New York, NY, US

LiveLike UX/UI Designer, VR/AR

Click Here to Apply

Sausalito, CA, US Aquent Virtual Reality Research Assistant

Click Here to Apply

Redmond, WA, US Oculus AR/VR Software Engineer, Eye Tracking

Click Here to Apply

Redmond, WA, US Oculus VR Gameplay Prototyping Engineer – Unity

Click Here to Apply

San Francisco, CA, US Google Software Engineer, Virtual Reality

Click Here to Apply

London, UK

SCE London Studio

QA Tester

Click Here to Apply

London, UK SCE London Studio Lead Environment Artist

Click Here to Apply

Don’t forget, if there was nothing in this week’s feature that was a good fit for you, you can always look at the previous edition of The VR Job Hub.

As always, if you are an employer looking for someone to fill an immersive technology related role – regardless of the industry – don’t forget you can send us the lowdown on the position and we’ll be sure to feature it in that following week’s feature. Details should be sent to myself at keva@vrfocus.com and also pgraham@vrfocus.com.

Check back with VRFocus next Sunday at the usual time of 3PM (GMT) for another selection of jobs from around the industry.

LiveLike: VR-Sport-Social-Media-Plattform erhält 9,6 Millionen US-Dollar

LiveLike bietet die Möglichkeit, nicht nur Sportveranstaltung in VR zu erleben, sondern dient auch als Social Media Plattform. Offensichtlich überzeugt das Projekt. Denn die Entwickler können sich jetzt über eine Investition in der Runde B freuen. Satte 9,6 Millionen US-Dollar stehen für die Weiterentwicklung von LiveLike zur Verfügung.

LiveLike in Serie B Funding mit 9,6 Millionen Dollar

Für LiveLike könnte es kaum besser laufen: Im vergangenen Jahr streamte das Start-up 76 Events, darunter Spiele von den French Open und das UEFA Champions League Finale. Außerdem räumte das junge Unternehmen bei den VR Awards 2017 ab und schnappte sich die Auszeichnung als VR-Start-up des Jahres.

Auch das neue Jahr beginnt bestens für die Mischung aus Sport-Streaming und Social Media: Eine zweite Finanzierungsrunde spült frisches Geld in die Firmenkasse, um die Plattform weiter auszubauen. Ganze 9,6 Millionen US-Dollar brachte die Rund-B-Investition ein.

Andre Lorenceau, CEO von LiveLike, will nun neue Schlüsselpositionen in seinem Unternehmen besetzen. Tatsächlich sucht die Firma etliche Mitarbeiter in vielen Bereichen für seine Standorte in New York und Gurgaon in Indien. Zudem plant die Firma, seine Partnerschaften zu erweitern und beispielsweise mit einer Fantasy Sports League die Palette an Inhalten zu erweitern. Auch will man die Nutzung der App einfacher gestalten.

Über LiveLike kann man Sport-Events im Livestream betrachten. Auf den mobilen Plattformen lässt sich ein Avatar erstellen und die Übertragung ähnlich wie bei Bigscreen gemeinsam erleben. Dabei gibt es keine LiveLike-App, sondern mehrere „Tochter-Apps“, die auf dem System basieren. So findet man beispielsweise für die Samsung Gear VR unter anderem die Anwendungen Fox Sports VR sowie BT Sport VR mit dem Champions League Finale 2017 in der walisischen Stadt Cardiff.

(Quelle: VR Focus)

Der Beitrag LiveLike: VR-Sport-Social-Media-Plattform erhält 9,6 Millionen US-Dollar zuerst gesehen auf VR∙Nerds. VR·Nerds am Werk!

LiveLike Sports Social VR Raises $9.6m in Funding

While many sports fans will be keen to tell you that nothing is quite as good as seeing a game live, for a variety of reasons, its no always possible to make it to the stadium. To get sports fans closer to the action was where LiveLike began, using virtual reality (VR) to bring sports to life. The company has now announced a successful Series B funding round.

LiveLike offers a merger between watching sports in VR and interacting with fellow fans using social media. The new injection of $9.6 million (USD) was led by Greycroft Partners and Lepe Partners, who join existing investors such as former NBA commissioner David Stern, Evolution Media, Courtside Ventures and Elysian Park in supporting the start-up.

Users of LiveLike can enter a ‘virtual suite’ that looks out over a given sporting event which resembles the executive boxes available at some stadiums and arenas. The VR environment allows users to connect with other fans using Facebook. Users are able to select a preferred camera angle, or access stats, highlights or replays as though they were controlling their own broadcast.

Previously, LiveLike has worked with broadcasters and rights holders such as Fox Sports and the French Tennis Federation, hosting a total of 76 events on its platform in 2017 including the UEFA Champion’s League Final, the French Open tennis tournament and the NCAA Basketball Big East Tournament.

The company says that it plans to use its new funding to expand partnerships and further improve the product and platform to not only make it simpler to use, but also add new features such as Fantasy Sports leagues.

“Thanks to our investors, we are now in a position to hire for key positions and continue delivering a premier next-generation sports [over-the-top] platform,” Andre Lorenceau, founder and CEO of LiveLike, said in announcing the funding.

For further news on new and innovative uses of VR in sports and other sectors, keep checking VRFocus.

Social VR Sports Viewing Platform livelike Raises $9.6 Million

Social VR sports viewing startup livelike has announced a Series B investment of $9.6 million.

Livelike is building a social sports viewing platform for VR and AR devices. The company’s product focuses on connecting remote users into ‘virtual suite’ where they can watch a live sports game projected outside the window (as if watching it from a stadium skybox), along with virtual screens showing stats, different angles, replays, and more. The company hopes to create a “new, interactive, communal way of watching live sports”

I was impressed when I got a chance to see an early version of their tech back in 2015. The company went on to raise a $5 million Series A round in 2016, and this week announced a $9.6 million Series B investment, bringing in investors Greycroft Partners and Lepe Partners, among others.

“LiveLike will utilize its new investment to expands its partnerships, and further build out its product and platform to make it even simpler and frictionless for users,” the company explained in its investment announcement. “This will include creating increased cross-platform compatibility, an evolved user interface to make content discovery even more intuitive, and new in-product experiences—such as fantasy sports integrations—designed to spark additional social interactions. Moreover, it will look to build new compelling advertising opportunities that enable marketers to connect with sports fans in groundbreaking ways.”

Image courtesy livelike

Livelike is developing its offering as a white label platform, allowing various sports and event producers to link their broadcasts into the virtual suite, and provide unique branding to fit the broadcaster, sport, and teams on the field. The company says that both FOX Sports and the French Tennis Federation are among the companies they’ve worked with thus far, and have created VR experiences using their tech for Super Bowl LI, UEFA Champions League Final, NCAA Basketball Big East Tournament, and the French Open.

The post Social VR Sports Viewing Platform livelike Raises $9.6 Million appeared first on Road to VR.

This Week in VR Sport: LiveLike & Fox Sports, FC Barcelona v Real Madrid C.F and SAP Catamaran VR Experience

It’s the start of a new month but the end of June had plenty to offer in the way of virtual reality (VR) sporting announcements. LiveLike has teamed up with Fox Sports to broadcast three Gold Cup games, later this month NextVR will broadcast El Clásico live for the first time and German tech company SAP has created an immersive experience on board a catamaran.

LiveLike and Fox Sports to Broadcast Three Gold Cup Games in 360 as Part of new ‘Virtual Suite’

Fox Sports has been a regular on This Week in VR Sports, having partnered with another regular NextVR on boxing as well as other sports including American Football. This week however is the turn of traditional (European) football – or soccer if you like – with Fox partnering with San Francisco-based startup LiveLike to showcase three Gold Cup matches in 360-degrees.

This is all part of a new virtual suite powered by LiveLike called Fox Sports VR App, with the CONCACAF Soccer Gold Cup being used to promote the app. Users get to overlook the field, being able to select different camera angles, checkout the suite and chat with friends – represented by basic avatars, view pre-produced content, and more.

To see what it’s all about take a look at the video below. The matches begin at the end of the week with the US team playing Panama on 8th July.

NextVR to Live Broadcast FC Barcelona v Real Madrid C.F This Month

Regular VRFocus readers should be well aware of NextVR by now, as the company tends to be fairly prominent in the field of 360-degree sports broadcasting. Later this month El Clásico Miami will be taking place, featuring football heavy weights FC Barcelona and Real Madrid C.F., and naturally NextVR will be livestreaming the proceedings.

La Liga rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid C.F. will be going head to head on 29th July, 2017 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, with Real Madrid C.F. making a record fifth appearance in the International Champions Cup (ICC), having played in every year of the tournament’s history.

NextVR will be broadcasting El Clásico live in 360-degrees for the first time. It’ll feature dedicated announcers, the halftime show experience and behind-the-scenes footage exclusive to VR headsets. Multiple cameras positioned along the pitch and throughout Hard Rock Stadium will transport fans into the heart of the action.

Fans with a Samsung Gear VR headset or Google Daydream View, can download the free NextVR app from the Oculus Store  or the Google Play Store respectively.

El Clasico Miami Logo

Go Extreme Sailing with SAP+You: The Smarter Skipper Experience

Ever wanted to see what extreme sailing on vessels like a catamaran is all about but never quite fancied all the pressure and stress that goes with it? Well SAP, a German tech company that’s fond of sponsoring this type of sport has created an immersive experience called SAP+You: The Smarter Skipper experience.

The experience puts the viewer on a replica catamaran, getting up close and personal with the extreme sailors. Fans of extreme sailing will get be able to get greater insight into the sport, watching the sailors race whilst being fed relevant data such as real-time wind conditions, boat speed and water currents.

“When you get to sit on the boat virtually, you almost feel how it lifts up and picks up speed,” said Milan Cerny, the technology and innovation lead of SAP’s Global Sponsorships business, reports SportTechie.

“In virtual reality, you’re in the middle of the action,” Cerny added. “You’re getting the thrill, understanding what’s going on and how (sailors) are interacting with what devices on the boat and deciding where they should go. You could see how far competitors are behind you, if they’re approaching the boat. It’s an interactive way and playful way to understand the measures that are important to win a race.”

This Week in VR Sport: The Superbowl Goes Virtual, F1 Looks To The Future

February’s first weekly roundup of all things virtual reality (VR) in the world of sport sees a number of sporty game titles revealed and updates in the world of several other sports. Including some intriguing comments as one discipline enters a new era.

Superbowl VR ‘Near Real-Time’ Highlights Packages Planned Courtesy Of LiveLike VR

One of the biggest sporting events on the planet is not that far away, and whilst the battle between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons is still very much up in the air there is good news. Thanks to Fox Sports and LiveLike VR, highlights of the Superbowl itself are coming to VR.

Revealed by Digital Trends, you’ll be able to see twenty broadcast packages, including the key moments from each quarter of the fifty-first Superbowl and a number of items supporting the event as a whole. Captured in 4K resolution via six cameras dotted around the stadium and all uploaded and available to watch via the Fox Sports VR app. Not only that LiveLike are taking another step towards having full games shown in VR by providing these package almost in real-time.

How close is almost? No one is quite sure. “We’ve never really done real-time highlights, which is a pretty big deal.” Admitted LiveLike’s CBO Miheer Walavalkar.

FOX Sports/ Livelike / NCAA Football

Formula 1’s New Owners Look To The Future

Formula One is under new ownership – and seemingly nothing is off the table.

After completing purchase of the controlling stake in the Formula One Group, the company that runs the ‘business’ of F1 from previous owner and long-term stalwart of the sport Bernie Ecclestone, new owners Liberty Media have been doing the rounds speaking to press and trying to lay out their vision for what the future of the sport may be.   New Chairman of F1 Chase Carey spoke to the BBC in an interview, and the subject of VR came up. Other motor sports, notably up-and-coming classification Formula E, have been experimenting with the tech.

Chase Carrey

When asked whether or not VR and other new technologies could attract new viewers to the sport Carey was buoyant about the prospects.

“There’s a list of opportunities that this sport is almost built for. And really at it’s core what you want to do is give the fan as experience that’s as close to driving one of these cars as possible. So whether that’s cameras,  or virtual reality, or gaming, or the live experience at the track technology provides us- and the various digital platforms out there provide us- more and more the experience that they’re right there with the driver. And those opportunities really are just going to continue to expand; because there really is no sport that is so built for the technologies of today and tomorrow like Formula 1.”

That’s been This Week in VR Sport, come back next week for another of VRFocus’ sport roundups.

You Can Watch The Super Bowl’s Biggest Plays In VR With LiveLike’s Private Suite

You Can Watch The Super Bowl’s Biggest Plays In VR With LiveLike’s Private Suite

Previously, the NFL’s Media Director William Deng spoke on the league’s virtual and 360-degree ambitions and apprehensions. Although the organization doesn’t think the visual resolution of headsets is high enough for live streaming and directing viewer’s attention is hard enough, Deng and company still believe in the platforms and thinks that any growth in use on their end depends greatly on how the mobile platforms develop. There have been no significant shifts since that discussion, but it looks like the NFL doesn’t want to miss out on a big opportunity as they’re partnering with LiveLike to bring the biggest game of the season to virtual reality: The Super Bowl.

LiveLike is a company that doesn’t just thrust viewers into their favorite sporting events, they’ve developed a virtual suite that serves as the ultimate sports fan’s venue with exciting decor and various broadcasts streaming into the dwelling. While the NFL is still not quite diving into a full live-stream of a football game, they’re going to be showing off the Super Bowl’s most exciting plays in near real-time via perspectives from 6 different cameras in the football stadium. Livelike’s co-founder Miheer Walavalkar believes this will be the first of many Super Bowl games to get the VR treatment and feels the massive event is a great way to introduce millions of people to VR.

Over the course of the game, viewers in the virtual suite will be able to see the four best plays per quarter and curated highlights for both teams pre and post game, totaling out to 20 clips as detailed in the press release for the announcement. Those highlights will be easy to access and viewers have can use a navigable timeline. It’s not entirely clear if the amount of clips is a finite number they can’t exceed, but it’ll like be tough for the broadcast team to keep things that limited with explosive performances expected from both the Patriots and the Falcons in the game on February 5th.

The VR broadcast can be viewed via iOS, Android, and Gear VR via the Fox Sports VR application. In the app, you must log-in using your television provider credentials.

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LiveLike Adds DVR-Like Replay To Live VR Broadcasts

LiveLike Adds DVR-Like Replay To Live VR Broadcasts

We’re at an early point in the expansion of the virtual reality industry where a lot of “firsts” will be claimed as companies blaze their own paths toward prominence. LiveLike, a broadcasting company, has staked their claim as the first virtual reality platform to watch live sports with friends and plans to press forward with new partnerships and new developments. The company previously broadcast events like the NCAA football game between Ohio State and Oklahoma back on September 17th and now, they’re expanding upon their partnership with Fox Sports VR by streaming the Major League Soccer Championship.

Just this past Saturday on December 3rd, LiveLike handled the broadcast of the Wisconsin vs Penn State game in VR through the Fox Sports VR application. The LiveLike platform provides game stats, individual player information, multiple angles, social viewing, and the malleability to be branded by any sponsor with their own images and ads. Barely a week later, LiveLike is upping the ante with new features that will debut on Dec. 10 when they show Fox Sport’s Major League Soccer Final broadcast between Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders. In it they’ll be debuting a replay feature for iOS users and, within the application, users will be able to rewind the broadcast in 30-second increments up to 30 minutes.

In addition to the replay feature, LiveLike will be introducing highlights that include 360-degree footage from previous events like the UFC faceoff between Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes, and the campus view during the Kansas State vs Stanford college football game. On top of all this, LiveLike and Fox Sports will be welcoming the first 3rd party sponsorship with branding from Audi by way of virtual suite placement and the “Audi Player Index” which is an accumulated score based on a player’s performance.

Having a platform that can easily include financially beneficial sponsor efforts bodes well for the future of FOX Sports and LiveLike, and LiveLike CEO Andre Lorenceau believes the evolving partnership and support of MLS and Audi is instrumental in “making huge headway into bringing VR into more and more households”. The FOX Sports VR application is available for download on iOS, Android, and for the Samsung Gear.

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This Week in VR Sport: NBA Shares Behind the Scenes, FOX Sports Makes VR American Football Live & Pay Per Checkmate

This week in the world of virtual reality (VR) sport there is an incredible mix of sports – whether or not you consider them all to be one – but it is all still a bit US-dominated.

Relive the 2016 NBA Finals in Follow My Lead Narrated by Actor Michael B Jordan

It has been described as one of the most dramatic, historic, and unforgettable championship series for the National Basketball Association (NBA), and now you can get it all on your Gear VR head-mounted display (HMD) in a way no one else has seen it with behind the scenes features in Follow My Lead.

nba oculus follow my lead

Michael B Jordan – no, not that Michael Jordan – takes you through what the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers did as they went head to head this summer. In this experience you can get an insight from both behind the scenes and on the court.

Oculus and NBA joined together last Wednesday to launch Follow My Lead in New York City where Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets was there, as well as the NBA trophy.

Check out Follow My Lead on the Oculus Store for the Gear VR, or as a 360 experience on NBA’s Facebook page.

FOX Sports Brings Live College American Football to VR Tonight

In partnership with LiveLike, FOX Sports will let fans watch the Sooners vs Buckeys game on their Gear VR, Google Cardboard, or even as a 360 video on their mobiles.

fox sports livelike

Users will enter either a Virtual Suite or go onto the field on the FOX Sports VR app to watch the Sooners and Buckeyes, and there will also even be a video board for users to watch FOX Sports’ coverage too.

“The ability to weave the brand in to the VR experience organically is vital,” Devin Poolman of FOX Sports said in a report by Sport Techie. “We see this evolving from basic placements on the field or in the virtual suite to richer engagements that take advantage of the interactive and virtual components of the platform.”

Watch the 2016 Chess World Championships Live in 360 This November

This may not be the more physical of the two, but it is still something to sit down and get into. This November in New york is the World Chess Championship, and it will be available as both a Google Cardboard and 360 viewing experience.

world chess championship vr

You can check it out this year’s championship if you are a pay-per-view or subsciption member with a ticket to the championship, which costs up to $15 (USD), $1.25 per each of the 12 games. It will start on the 11th November and finish on the 30th.