Microsoft Digitally Preserves Original Ancient Greek Olympic Site – SportTechie

Microsoft has created a new digital experience for users to explore ancient Olympia—the site of the original Olympic Games in Greece. The project includes 3D models of 27 ancient buildings, such as the original Olympic Stadium, the temples of Zeus and Hera and the workshop of Greek sculptor Phidias.
 The experience is called “Ancient Olympia: Common Grounds,” and it was made in collaboration with Greece’s Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport. Iconem, a startup that specializes in digitally replicating historical sites, also partnered with Microsoft to create the 3D project, which includes descriptions of how ancient Olympia changed over time.
 Iconem used on-ground cameras and drones to take hundreds of thousands of images at modern-day Olympia. Microsoft AI then altered the images based on research from archaeologists to create 3D models that resemble its ancient form.
 “The project to digitally preserve ancient Olympia is a stunning achievement in cultural heritage, bringing together humanity and cutting-edge technology to benefit the world and empower coming generations with new ways to explore our past,” Brad Smith, president and vice chair at Microsoft, said in a statement.
 Users can explore the digital experience through its web page, its mobile app or by making an in-person visit to the Athens Olympic Museum in Greece. An exhibit at the museum lets guests put on a Microsoft HoloLens headset for a virtual tour of ancient Olympia. 
All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. joined two rosters on Thursday, signing a free agent NFL contract with the Los Angeles Rams and partnering with sleep-tracking company Oura Health as a new brand ambassador.
 Beckham is serving as creative director for the new promotional campaign, which follows the recent release of its new Oura Ring Generation 3. The latest iteration of Oura provides more daytime metrics, such as workout heart rate monitoring in addition to its signature sleep tracking. 
 In his day job, Beckham will play alongside Matthew Stafford, Darrell Henderson Jr., Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp on offense. In supporting Oura, Beckham joins a group of star athletes that includes Chris Paul, Katie Ledecky, Lindsey Vonn and Carissa Moore—all four of whom have won Olympic gold medals.
 Oura has previously partnered with the NBA and NBPA, NASCAR and the World Surf League (The NFLPA has an agreement with Whoop).
 “The Oura Ring has changed the way I think about my health and my sleep patterns, which is why I wanted to get involved with the brand,” Beckham said in a statement. “Being asked to represent the brand was a no-brainer, but I was really thrilled to come on board to creative direct my campaign with Oura. It is always great to work with a company that I really believe in.”
Alt, a marketplace for trading cards and other collectibles, has raised $75 million in Series B funding. Several athletes invested in the round—including Tom Brady, Candace Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Alex Morgan and Marlon Humphrey. Existing investors in Alt include Kevin Durant and Larry Fitzgerald. 
The round was led by investment firm Spearhead alongside several others, such as Vibe Capital, Seven Seven Six, Breyer Capital, Shrug Capital and Apollo Group. Alt began as a platform to buy and sell lucrative sports trading cards, though the company plans to expand into other assets such as watches and NFTs. 
“We define alternative assets as any asset that a traditional bank does not consider real collateral. Where the banks stop, Alt starts. We want to be the financial platform for the next generation of assets,” Alt president Nicole Colombo said in a statement.
Cards sold on Alt are physically stored in the company’s facility that it calls the “Fort Knox of cards.” After transactions, buyers can have their items shipped to them, but Alt says that 99% of sold cards stay in its facility because buyers view the cards as investments rather than display items, according to TechCrunch
StatusPro, an extended reality training and gaming company, has announced a wide range of strategic investors who are among the biggest names in sports and entertainment: LeBron James, Drake, Naomi Osaka, Maverick Carter, Jimmy Iovine and Paul Wachter. They join institutional investors that fueled a $5.2 million seed round, led by KB Partners and TitletownTech.
Co-founded by former football players Andrew Hawkins and Troy Jones, StatusPro uses player tracking data to create a realistic training platform that’s being deployed by six NFL teams. The program is device agnostic and can be viewed in augmented reality, virtual reality or mixed reality. 
“I look for investment opportunities that can have a lasting impact on culture and society—and StatusPRO is poised to do that,” Osaka said in a statement. “It’s not only going to influence gaming and entertainment [two things I am passionate about], but also the way athletes can train and analyze their performance.”
Hawkins, the company’s chief business officer, is a former NFL wide receiver who played three seasons each for the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. He later worked as director of business development at The SpringHill Company, where he collaborated with James and Carter. Jones, StatusPro’s CEO, played college football at Maryland and Western Kentucky.
“We always say, ‘We’re only as strong as our team,’ and now our team is a lot stronger, especially in the sports space,” Hawkins says.
StatusPro is developing consumer products that recreate the experience of playing elite sports and has expanded its offerings beyond American football. “One of the things we wanted to do is identify partners, even outside of football, that could help us tell their story of what it’s like to be athletes,” Jones says.
World Triathlon announced it is developing technology to prevent drafting among cyclists during races. 
Drafting is when a cycler moves behind another biker to get into a low pressure area, reducing the wind resistance and energy needed to pedal. World Triathlon, the international governing body for sport, says about 85% of global triathlons do not allow drafting in their cycling portions of events.
Officials have traditionally made naked-eye judgments during races to combat drafting, but a new device made by New Zealand-based startup RaceRanger would reduce the ambiguity. The company’s sensor-embedded device attaches to the front and rear end of a bike to detect real-time distance between cyclers. A light on the device flashes when an athlete spends too much time in the ”draft zone.”
Officials could view this distance data on RaceRanger’s app before deciding whether or not to penalize a cyclist for drafting. World Triathlon will trial RaceRanger at events in New Zealand before evaluating the system for expanded global use. 
“With this agreement with RaceRanger we want to make the athlete experience better, providing new technologies that will increase the fairness of the competition for all athletes, especially the ones competing in longer distance formats,” World Triathlon president Marisol Casado said in a statement. 
Global sports streaming service DAZN has acquired the social streaming provider Texel, whose employees and intellectual property will become part of DAZN X, the company’s new innovation hub.
DAZN, which is available as a direct-to-consumer premium subscription, has become a major rights holder, especially in countries such as Japan, Germany and Italy—where it broadcasts domestic soccer league matches in addition to a number of international sports circuits. Since its 2018 launch in the U.S., DAZN has focused primarily on combat sports such as boxing and MMA, although not every deal has worked out. It is now available in more than 200 countries.
Texel synchronizes broadcasts and enables interactive commentary, betting, gaming and shopping, as well as personalization of the experience. All 50 of its Tel Aviv-based employees will join DAZN X, which will support the company’s streaming product everywhere it is available.
“We are here to revolutionise the sports viewing experience by making it more exciting, more sociable and engaging,” DAZN co-CEO Shay Segev said in a statement. “Our acquisition of Texel and the launch of DAZN X significantly accelerates our strategy and positions us as the world’s leading sports innovator.”
University of Connecticut basketball star Paige Bueckers has signed a three-year brand ambassador deal with sneaker and apparel marketplace StockX. The deal is the first NIL endorsement for Bueckers, who won the John Wooden Award as a freshman last season.
 “My partnership with StockX is about equity and authenticity,” Bueckers told ESPN. “It’s about product I love and about shining a light on all the creatives that drive culture. I’m here to celebrate them and, together with StockX, invest in making sure women and women athletes are prioritized, elevated and recognized for their style and their leadership.”
StockX partnered with the NBA G League Ignite to auction the team’s uniforms for charity in March. The company, which was co-founded by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, sold $1.8 billion worth of items in 2020 and valued itself at $3.8 billion in April. 
Audience analytics platform StellarAlgo has raised a $16.5 million Series A funding round to expand its software across sports and live events. The company’s existing clients include 85 sports teams such as the New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Kings.
StellarAlgo’s cloud-based Customer Data Platform analyzes data across ticket and merchandise sales, email marketing and other touchpoints. Its goal is to generate insights on consumer behavior that teams can leverage to further monetize their fanbases. 
In 2019, StellarAlgo competed in a data visualization challenge hosted by SportTechie and the San Francisco 49ers for Horizon Summit at Levi’s Stadium.
The round was led by Toronto-based Carallas Holdings, while NewBound VC and Bleacher Report founder Dave Finocchio also invested. With its new funds, StellarAlgo plans to double its staff and open headquarters in the U.S. and Europe. StellarAlgo was profitable in 2020 despite Covid-19’s shutdown of live sports.
“Engagement and connection are at the heart of what every fan wants from their favorite team—no one makes this relationship more central to how properties interact with their fanbase than StellarAlgo,” Finocchio said in a statement. “This is a company that’s poised to disrupt the sports tech space with advanced technology that every organization in the sports ecosystem should salivate over.”
Nike teased a new augmented reality running activation using Spectacles, the smartglasses product made by Snap Inc. A video posted to Nike’s Twitter account on Nov. 5 shows a runner wearing the glasses on her 1-mile run throughout Brooklyn. 
 The video captures a first-person view from the runner’s AR Spectacles, recorded through its built-in camera. Animated gizmos that appear during her run include an augmented bird wearing Nike shoes, targets that share words of encouragement for the runner and digital Nike ads.
 Nike’s Twitter post was captioned, “Nike + @snapchat AR = no more boring runs. What do you think @EliudKipchoge?” Kipchoge is a record-breaking marathoner, a Nike-sponsored athlete and the face of Nike’s 2017 Breaking2 Project.
Nike’s Snapchat AR integration follows last week’s CNBC report of recent trademark filings that foretell Nike’s intent to sell virtual Nike sneakers, apparel and accessories. 
Will Ventures—an investment firm focused on the sports, health and media spaces—has formed a strategic partnership with OneTeam Partners, the athlete licensing firm co-founded by the NFLPA and MLBPA. Startups under Will Ventures’ portfolio can now leverage OneTeam athletes for marketing purposes.
 OneTeam holds group licensing rights to more than 4,000 athletes across several players associations for the NFL, MLB, WNBA, MLS, U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and U.S. Rugby. The deal will also allow OneTeam-represented athletes to invest or further collaborate with startups backed by Will Ventures. 
 “Having been a professional athlete, an entrepreneur, and an investor, I have seen the outsized value that engaged athletes can bring to startups. That’s why we believe that our partnership with OneTeam will help early-stage consumer, health, and media companies win,” Isaiah Kacyvenski, a former Seattle Seahawks linebacker and co-founder of Will Ventures, said in a statement. 
 Will Ventures has invested in companies such as electromagnetism muscle recovery startup Impact Biosystems, youth sports management app Aktivate, sports data company Tempus Ex, crowd monitoring software Armored Things, media startup Just Women’s Sports, and at-home boxing machine Liteboxer.
The NHL’s Florida Panthers have partnered with Nova Southeastern University’s Alan B. Levan Broward Center of Innovation to launch the Magical Hockey Stick Challenge. The competition aims to identify sports technology startups in the South Florida area. 
Applications for the challenge are due Nov. 13; it is open to students from NSU and other schools, as well as entrepreneurs who are not students. The contest is looking for startups from three main focus groups: wearable technology, fan experience and consumer insight products. 
“The Levan Center and the Florida Panthers are collaborating to create a culture of innovation in the region through a corporate innovation challenge that ultimately creates new pathways for breakthrough ideation, new technologies, talent skills pipeline, company formation, job creation, and scaling of early-stage and young startup companies,” John Wensveen, chief innovation officer of NSU, said in a statement. 
Executives from the Panthers and the Levan Center will select three finalists and one winner. The winner will receive tickets to an upcoming Panthers home game, a custom Panthers jersey and in-game recognition of their winning product.