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TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: Amazon Web Services, the massive cloud computing arm of Amazon that made $4.6 billion last quarter, held its big annual conference in Las Vegas this week — and there were quite a few sports-related announcements.
I wrote about the new partnership between AWS and the NFL here. The league will use machine learning and data analytics services built by AWS for Next Gen Stats, a new platform that uses data from player and ball tracking devices to produce new advanced statistics like distance covered, speed, and acceleration — the idea is to better show a receiver’s ability to get open, for example, or how well the offensive line protects the quarterback.
Sports tech also came up during the conference keynote addresses. A company called HEED brought two UFC fighters on stage to show how advances in AI, IoT, and data visualization can enhance the fan experience. GeekWire reporter Tom Krazit, who covered the conference, called the demo “ridiculous.”
Can someone tell me why there is a UFC fight on stage at this Amazon developer conference right now? pic.twitter.com/XC86Jsyypq
— Romain Dillet 🙃 (@romaindillet) November 30, 2017
— Amazon Web Services (@awscloud) December 1, 2017
During his keynote, AWS chief Andy Jassy talked about Hudl, a top sports tech startup based in Lincoln, Nebraska that sells video and analytics tools for coaches. The company uses AWS’ machine learning tools to do “sports mapping” — for example, showing who passes to who in a soccer match. AWS uses Hudl as a case study for its cloud computing services.
These are the latest examples of Amazon’s continued push into the sports world. The company’s cloud computing arm also powers Statcast, the next generation statistics platform for Major League Baseball. Amazon also is streaming Thursday Night Football games this season on its Prime video platform.
Highlights from the week in sports tech
- Brooks is partnering with HP and Superfeet to sell the Brooks Levitate RS, “the first performance running shoe created based on an individual’s unique biomechanics.” Read more at GeekWire here.
- The Sounders are headed back to the MLS Cup for a rematch against Toronto after a dominate playoff win over Houston in Seattle on Thursday. MLS’ new video assistant referee, or “VAR,” caused a Houston player to be ejected from the match — the technology continues to be a hot topic in soccer. I’ve also been impressed with the Sounders social media push.
- Chips inside NFL footballs are already helping provide more data about player performance to fans and teams. Sports Illustrated notes how the technology could help officials, too.
- The NFL opened its “NFL Experience” in Times Square this week. There’s quite a bit of technology packed into the marketing play.
- Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue doesn’t think esports are sports.
- This is cool: Harvard and the NBA teamed up to launch a semester-long program designed to teach current and former players about business with the help of MBA students.
- Japanese tech giant Fujitsu is developing a 3D sensory system to help judge gymnastics competitions, including the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
- A Golden State Warriors fan is suing the team, alleging that its mobile app recorded conversations in a possible violation of wiretap laws.
- As the U.S. Supreme Court gets ready to hear a key case that could impact legal sports betting, companies are already coming out with online gambling services.
- Apple continues to make moves in healthcare, this week releasing an Apple Watch app for a study that will assess whether or not the wearable device can detect a heart rhythmic disorder.
- Before Auburn beat Alabama this past Saturday, Apple CEO Tim Cook — who graduated from Auburn in 1982 — gave a passionate pre-game speech to the players.
- ESPN and Twitch are hosting a 24-hour live streaming marathon as part of V Week. ESPN also laid off another 150 people this week.
- A new product from Topgolf lets golfers play virtual courses at driving ranges and get feedback on their practice shots.
- Tweet of the Week goes to the Washington State Attorney General’s office, which plans to “investigate” if Mariners legend Edgar Martinez doesn’t get into the MLB Hall of Fame.
What to watch this weekend: Plenty of exciting college football action Saturday — Memphis at UCF at 9 a.m. PT on ABC; TCU at Oklahoma at 9:30 a.m. on FOX; Georgia at Auburn at 1 p.m. on CBS; Miami at Clemson at 5 p.m. on ABC; Ohio State at Wisconsin at 5 p.m. on FOX; Stanford at USC at 5 p.m. on ESPN … Top NFL matchups are Vikings at Falcons at 10 a.m. on FOX; Panthers at Saints at 1:25 p.m. on FOX; and Eagles at Seahawks for Sunday Night Football on NBC … Tiger Woods is making his much-anticipated return this weekend at the Hero World Challenge — you can watch the tournament on NBC.
Thanks for tuning in, everyone! — Taylor Soper