Over the past few decades, technology has significantly impacted the sports industry. From the National Basketball Association’s introduction of the shot clock in the mid-1950s to the graphic that superimposes a first-down line “on the field” for viewers of football games on TV to Major League Baseball’s adoption of instant replay, there’s no denying the role of technology in sports.
Today, technology in athletics and training is playing a bigger role than ever. The latest forces driving the $60-billion-a-year industry include wearables, virtual reality and live streaming.
Of course, it’s no surprise that Israeli companies are in the game, seeking a piece of the action.
Last month I mentioned Intel’s acquisition of the Israeli startup Replay Technologies for $175 million. Since February, their technology has been used to give fans a 360-degree look at NBA games, and the same system made its Major League Baseball debut at the All-Star Game last month. If a center fielder made an amazing catch, for example, 28 cameras strategically placed around the field created a replay for viewers that completely rotated around the fielder.
A couple of weeks ago, the Israeli Economic Mission, together with the Israeli Export Institute, organized a Sports Tech Delegation to the United States aimed at enhancing the sports industry with technological advances from Israel. The delegation included 13 of Israel’s leading tech companies, each offering ideas such as video production, editing, wireless transmission, image manipulation, fan engagement, monetization and fan interactivity.
The delegation met with decision-makers from leagues, teams, stadiums and networks — as well as investors — in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York. The Israeli visitors presented a broad spectrum of ideas aimed at improving the experience for the entire industry — for fans, athletes and broadcasters, alike.
Here are some of the companies that participated:
Motionize. Founded by kayak enthusiasts, Motionize has developed sensors that provide a “virtual coach” for athletes. The Israeli startup’s patented algorithm and hardware tracks and analyzes an athlete’s motion, compares it to optimal movement and gives immediate instructions for improvement. The motion sensor can be worn on an athlete’s body or placed on sports equipment such as a baseball bat, a tennis racket, a golf club or a kayak paddle. For more information, visit www.motionizeme.com.
Applicaster. Proclaiming on their website that “the future of TV is apps,” Applicaster aims to equip broadcast networks and sports leagues with an app platform that allows viewers to interact with what they’re watching. For example, the app would provide someone watching a sporting event with second-screen activities, additional content information and social-media experiences. For more information, visit www.applicaster.com.
Showbox. “Create studio-quality video in minutes,” Showbox boasts on its website. For sports leagues, teams, brands and publishers, this means being able to tell a story with a simple, safe and cost-effective process that can be managed and controlled in-house. Using a platform that lives in the cloud, companies can create video content, marketing campaigns and community engagement activities. For more information, visit www.showbox.com.
Startup of the month
No. 3 on Jewish Business News’ July list of the Top 10 undiscovered Israeli startups, Apeo allows users to create stylish looking polls from any device in seconds, and then share them through social media, with results displayed in real-time. Apeo wants to introduce these polls to everyday life, helping people discover majority opinions on any topic. For more information, visit www.apeo.co (not .com) or see the Jewish Business News article at www.tinyurl.com/jbn-top10list.
Exit of the month
Israel-based SalesPredict, which uses advanced analytics to predict consumer-buying behavior, was acquired by eBay, the San Jose-based company announced. Founded in 2012, SalesPredict specializes in helping businesses grow revenue through analytics that identify ideal potential customers. Financial terms of the deal were estimated to be around $40 million.
Gili Ovadia is the S.F.-based Israeli consul for economic affairs to the West Coast.