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TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: One trend I like to track is watching how big tech giants are getting into sports — and our spotlight on the Seahawks use of Microsoft software this week was a good example.
Microsoft in June debuted its new Sports Performance Platform, a product born out of the company’s internal incubator that helps coaches and trainers gain insight into injury prevention, or analyze the proper workload for a practice regimen.
Now the Seahawks are lifting the hood on how the platform, in combination with other sports tech hardware and software, helps with data-driven decision making. Other teams like Real Madrid; Cricket Australia; SL Benfica; and some U.S. colleges are also using Microsoft’s technology. Read more about how the technology impacts coaching decisions here.
Highlights from the week in sports tech
- I caught up with Cameron McAlees, the 20-year-old who was just hired as an operations manager for Blazer5 Gaming, the Portland Trail Blazers’ new esports team that will compete next year in the new NBA 2K League. It’s yet another reminder of the growth of esports and I liked what McAlees had to say about the connections between traditional sports and video games.
- The NFL inked a huge deal with Verizon this week, extending its partnership with the wireless carrier and expanding where fans will be able to watch games with their smartphone.
- The Thursday Night Football broadcast this week again used SkyCam as the primary viewing angle. Love this mash-up showing how the view resembles a virtual game on Madden. Though this technology can be dangerous, as demonstrated during the MLS Cup.
- Twitch, the Amazon-owned video game streaming platform, will stream NBA G League games. The format could be a preview of how we’ll watch sports online in the future.
- Speaking of Amazon and live streaming, the tech giant just inked another deal, this time with the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.
- Wearable trackers like the Apple Watch or FitBit are becoming a “personal medical device,” as Wired reports.
- Seahawks star Richard Sherman is getting into cryptocurrency. His former teammate Sidney Rice did the same a few months ago.
- The Steelers used FaceTime to celebrate a win with their injured teammate Ryan Shazier, who is recovering from spinal stabilization surgery.
- The San Francisco Giants are embracing sports science as a way to get an edge.
- Axe Bat, a division of Renton, Wash.-based Baden Sports, signed a deal with George Springer, the latest MLB player to use the innovative Axe Handle bat.
- Hudl, one of the top sports tech startups, made another acquisition, swooping up a company called VolleyMetrics that does video analysis for volleyball matches.
- This is a fun use of virtual reality that shows how difficult it is to be a referee.
What to watch this weekend: Lots of NFL games with playoff implications — Chiefs vs. Chargers on Saturday at 5:25 p.m. PT on NFL Network; Rams vs. Seahawks on Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX; and Steelers vs. Patriots on Sunday at 1:25 p.m. on CBS … college football bowl games kick off Saturday with six games … the NHL is hosting an outdoor game at 7 p.m. on NBCSN Saturday to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Thanks for tuning in, everyone! — Taylor Soper