Intel True View coming to Niners, Vikings apps; but will anyone watch?

Screen shot of an Intel-powered 3D view of an NFL game.

From a sports viewing standpoint, there may not be a more compelling new technology lately than Intel’s True View platform, which can provide 360-degree 5K-resolution looks at a sporting event that are equally stunning and informative, a true leap in performance for TV-watching fans. Last week, a move by Intel to provide venture funding for app development firm VenueNext seemed like a great deal for fans of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings, whose stadium apps are slated to get the Intel technology to support 3D replay views, perhaps as early as next season.

While both the funding and the replay plans are positive moves for sports fans, our question is, will anyone really watch? While VenueNext’s app platform seems to be gaining momentum with pro teams from all the major U.S. sports leagues, the instant replay function — which was part of VenueNext’s first platform, the app for the Niners’ Levi’s Stadium — has never really caught on, peaking at the start and slowly dwindling thereafter. Replays on other mobile platforms, however — like Twitter — are enormously popular, with one Vikings video alone earning more than 4 million views.

VenueNext CEO John Paul at last week’s Intel event.

Though the Intel/VenueNext announcement garnered a lot of headlines last week, none of the other stories mentioned how little-used the instant replay function is. In fact, almost every team or stadium that has instant-replay functionality in its app declines to provide any statistics for the feature, a shyness we can only attribute to the fact that the numbers are embarrassingly low. The only one VenueNext was able to tell us about was the Niners’ app, which according to VenueNext generated approximately 1,000 views per game last season.

During 2014, the first season Levi’s Stadium was open, the app peaked early with 7,800 replays during that year’s home opener; by the end of the season that number was down to fewer than 4,000 replays per game, which prompted Niners CEO Jed York to label the service’s low uptake a surprising disappointment. Now it’s even used far less often. (VenueNext competitor YinzCam also has instant replay available for many of its team apps, but also does not provide team-by-team viewing stats.)

One reason York cited for the low replay use was the quality and frequency of replays shown on the Levi’s Stadium large video boards; while in the past many pro teams kept replays to a minimum (especially if they were unflattering to the home team) the acceptance of replay review in many leagues and a general change of behavior now sees almost constant replay showing, as well as live action on in-stadium video boards. And while the process to produce in-app video replays is stunningly quick, even the fastest replay functionality combined with the need to navigate a device screen is usually well behind live play.

Screen shot of instant replay service inside Levi’s Stadium app.

Since the amount of funding Intel is providing VenueNext was not announced, it’s hard to tell whether or not either company will consider the transaction worthwhile if the replay viewing numbers remain low. Another problem with the app replays is that many are confined to in-stadium views only due to broadcast rights restrictions; compare that handcuff to the openness of Twitter, where a video of the “Minnesota Miracle” walkoff TD shot by a quick-thinking Minnesota Vikings employee (Scott Kegley, the team’s executive director of digital media & innovation) during last year’s playoffs garnered more than 4 million views and recently won a Webby award.

If there’s a dirty not-so-secret about stadium wireless connectivity, it’s that almost every report we’ve ever seen about app and service usage inside venues puts use of open social media platforms like Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook far, far above team and stadium app usage. Though stadium and team apps are gaining more traction recently due to their embrace of service functionality for things like parking, concession transactions and digital ticketing, we still haven’t seen any reports or evidence that in-stadium instant replays are gaining in use.

Will Intel’s revolutionary technology change the game for in-app replays? We’ll track the developments and keep asking for stats, so stay tuned.

Friday Grab Bag: MLB Looks at iBeacon

In the last few weeks Microsoft has been very good at starting rumors with its vague comments about potential new directions and the latest is that it might be looking at delivering a Phablet that runs the unpopular Windows RT operating system.

As reported by Slash Gear, Microsoft vice president Terry Myerson speaking at the company’s financial analyst meeting last week said that the distinction between a phone and a tablet is blurring and that has seen the growth of the Phablet space.

Google’s Balloon idea about to pop?
Much has been made about Google’s plan to launch a series of balloons to provide Wi-Fi-around the globe in an effort called Project Loon. Now Per Lindstrand has come out against the program calling it ‘a waste of time.’

If you are unfamiliar with Lindstrand he was Richard Branson’s partner as they sought to fly a balloon around the world. He said that he expects the balloons to eventually all gather at the North or South Pole.

MLB gives iBeacon a trial run
One of the features in Apple’s recently released iOS 7 operating system is something called iBeacon. It is a technology that is designed to address the shortcomings that GPS suffers from when used indoors.

Now MLB has demonstrated the potential of the technology for use at ballgames and has the potential to bring fans to within 10 feet of their destination, not within the ½ mile that is how much a GPS can be off. No word yet if it will incorporate it in its At the Ballpark app, but keep an eye out next season.

Wall Street misses on Apple iPhone sales
The day that Apple released its latest generation iPhones the naysayers were out in force. The company has lost its mojo, CEO Cook is not inventive enough, the new phones are a dud and on and on as the stock, which had soared prior to the rollout started to sink.

The market put sales of the new phones in the 6 to 7.5 million range and just a week later Apple is breaking the 10 million unit barrier and phones are on backorder. In addition the company told Wall Street to expect quarterly earnings to be at the high end of the range it had previously announced. Mojo rising I guess.

Intel invests in Google Glass rival
Recon Instruments, which has been making wearable technology for some time has announced that Intel has come on board as a significant investor, although the sum has not been revealed. Recon makes Heads-up Displays for sports.

Recon has a number of partners including Oakley and has been shipping, and selling the devices at a number of outlets worldwide, including Apple Stores. Recon said that so far it has shipped over 50,000 devices.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 ship date set from Sprint
Sprint has announced that it will be shipping the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on Oct. 4. So fans of the very popular phone can start getting in line soon. The real good news for many will be that it comes with an Unlimited Data Guarantee for life.

Friday Grab Bag: Watch NBA Finals on Select Mobile Devices: New Rival to Google Glass

Just a reminder that with the NBA Finals now being fought out on the court you can still watch the games if you are not in front of your television on ABC. Well on most but not all mobile devices. For users of Apple’s iPhone and iPad there is an app at the iTunes store.

There is also an app for users of the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD. Viewers using laptops as well as desktop computers can log into Looks like Android users are out in the cold on this for some reason. This is all part of a free access preview running through the end of June.

Asus fights for tablet share with low cost Memo Pad HD7
Asustek’s latest offering is a 7-inch tablet that could create demand for lower cost offerings in the tablet space. The $129 Asus Memo Pad HD7 has a 7-inch display with 1280 x 800 resolution and it includes a 1.2 megapixel front facing camera and a 5 MP rear facing camera. Depending on market it will be available with either 8GB or 16GB (at $149) of storage.

The company also delivered a 10-inch tablet this week, the 10-inch Transformer Pad Infinity that has the Android 4.2 operating system and is powered by a quad-core Tegra processor. It also features a 2048 x 1600 resolution display. Pricing is not yet available according to

Intel invests in gesture control technology developer Thalmic Lab
There has been a great deal of talk about the advent of wearable computing devices, from smartwatches to Google Glass and Intel does not want to miss out on the fun. It has joined an investment round to provide $14.5 million in Series A funding to Thalmic Labs.

Thalmic Labs has developed a wearable gesture control device called MYO and said that it will use the funding, which came from a round that was led by Intel Capital and Spark Capital and included Formation 8, First Round Capital and FundersClub, along with the following individual investors: Paul Graham, Marc Benioff, Geoff Ralston, Sam Altman, Garry Tan, Fritz Lanman, Hank Vigil, Tom Wagner, Alex Bard, Michael Litt and Daniel Debow.

Intel will provide access to manufacturing and technology to Thalmic to help it both scale production of its existing devices as well as develop future generations.

Rivals to Google Glass starting to emerge
At the annual Computex trade show a developer called Oculon Optoelectronics surface, that has a rival product to Google Glass that Oculon calls Oculon Smart Glasses. It claims that they will have better battery life, a better display and will cost less, around $500. Well that is settled.

Google Glass is not the first time a developer has created a wearable computer in the form of glasses, although Google’s effort is by far the largest and best financed effort. I wonder if developers that once sneered at the idea of a tablet now want to try and be in front of the acceptance curve rather than behind it and so are working to have products out simultaneously with Google so as to not initially surrender the market?

Friday Grab Bag- Major Apple iOS 7 Revamp on the Way?

Google has started providing its developers with the Glass Explorer edition of the product and they have started to create some of the first generation apps for the eyewear. It already comes with voice recognition software to help users navigate and display data but one developer has taken it a step further.

According to a piece by CBS News an app has emerged that cuts out the need to inform the glasses verbally to take a photo or need to touch any sort of button, all you need to do is wink and the action has occurred. I wonder what happens on a windy day, possibly a flash card collection of your day?

Next Gen Samsung Galaxy Note specs leaked

Samsung, which appears to be in an escalating war of smartphone features with Apple, has had the details of its next generation offering released according to SamMobile. The Galaxy Note III is expected feature a 5.99” full Super HD display and a 13 megapixel camera.

The real wow might be the fact that it could be powered by an eight-core CPU and feature an eight-core GPU as well, which should make it one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful handheld device available. It is expected to ship in the August/September time frame.

Google I/O Schedule Released
If you are waiting breathlessly for mid-May when the Google I/O conference is being held, or even if you are just mildly interested, the kind people at Google have released the schedule so that you can plan your day around the events.

There is a three hour keynote so bring your pillow and over 120 sessions. It will be interesting to see how they top the Google Glass skydiving event from last year. Sail a blimp around San Francisco Bay?

Intel and Samsung the latest to invest in Expect Labs
I hope you like Suri and the related speech programs appearing on devices because it looks like more are coming soon. Intel Capital, Samsung Venture Investment and Telefonica Digital have all invested in Expect Labs, a company that develops technology that analyzes and understands conversations in real-time.

The latest investors join Google and IDG Ventures. The company already has an app available called MindMeld for Apple’s iPad tablets.

Will Apple’s expected iOS 7 cause upheaval
Jonathon Ive, the knighted Apple design guru recently took over Apple’s latest efforts to deliver a new version of the operating system and early reports are that it will appeal to new users but may appall experienced ones.

If this sounds familiar it is what has happened to Microsoft with its Windows 8 release. It is reported that Ive will be taking a minimalist approach to the redesign and is expected to remove a good many of the icons and symbols that adorn the OS today in search of a simpler look.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Windows 8 nears, Apple vs Samsung Rd 2 this Week

The Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit currently ongoing in a San Jose, Calif. Federal courthouse has a little for everybody, taunting, name calling, and a look into the past as the two tech rivals fight it out over the look and feel of Samsung’s smartphones and tablets and if it infringed on Apple’s designs.

The case, which started last week, provided a snapshot of how intertwined the people of Silicon Valley are during jury selection when it appeared that most potential jurors seemed to work for rivals high tech companies, but finally the jury was filled.

Apple opened predictably claiming that Samsung simply found it easier to copy than innovate and Samsung retorted that it was simply developing products along the same lines. Images of product development and prototypes have been submitted to show similarities in both companies’ offerings.

Samsung has leaked evidence that was excluded by the judge and Apple requested that the judge award it victory in the case-its request was denied. The case continues this week.

Microsoft Windows hits OEMs, on Street Oct 26
Microsoft’s tablet OEMs and other now have the final software code of Windows 8 to its hardware OEMs so that they can now start preloading the OS into their next generation products ranging from desktop and notebook computers to tablets.

The hardware OEMs, among which are Dell, Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung and Lenovo are expected to have products available at the official public launch of the operating system that has been pegged as Oct. 26. I expect that for a good deal of the products we will see a lot of ‘unoffical’ leaks prior to that day.

Intel bets on motion sensing as future interface
Intel Capital, along with iSource and GIMV has invested 6.5 million Euros in Movea in a Series C funding round. The company develops motion sensing and data fusion technology that will be incorporated in a wide range of devices ranging from set top boxes, tablets, smartphones and even car infotainment units.

Samsung’s next-gen Galaxy Note due later this month
Samsung has told Reuters that the next generation Galaxy Note, its smartphone with the 5.5-inch display. According to the report the device will be first shown to the public at the company’s Samsung Mobile Unpacked event that is scheduled for August 29th in Berlin. It is interesting to note that the date is about two weeks prior to when Apple is expected to unveil its next smartphone and tablet offerings.

Apple rules the tablet space, market research shows
Market research company International Data Corp. (IDC) has released preliminary data on the the world wide tablet market for the second quarter has found that, to the surprise of no one, Apple continues to dominate this space.

The company found that the overall market shipped 25 million units in the quarter, a 33.6% quarter over quarter increase from the first quarter’s 18.7 million units, and 66.2% over the same period a year before. Of that 25 million Apple shipped 17 million of them, up from 11.8 million the previous quarter.

Its rivals do not compare well to Apple’s numbers. Top foe Samsung managed 2.4 million units, good for a 9.6% market share followed by Amazon with 1.2 million units, good for a 5% share. No other rival broke 1 million units. I will be interested to see how Google’s Nexus 7 does in the next quarters’ results.

Google and Rovi ink deal
Google has signed an agreement with Rovi that will enable Google to use Rovi’s interactive program guide technology for set top boxes, tablets and other mobile products. It is expected that the technology will be used in Google’s rollout of Google Fiber.

Google adds handwriting recognition to search
Speaking of Google, back in its core search business it is adding a new feature for mobile users, handwriting recognition. The technology will first roll out for Android smartphones and tablets and then move over to Apple’s iOS platform as well. It will have support for 27 different languages.

AT&T to shut down 2G-in 5 years
AT&T has said that the end is in sight for its 2G network as the carrier plans to discontinue support for the wireless network in five years. The company will redeploy that spectrum as part of its effort to focus on its 3G and 4G networks, which it said are facing capacity issues due to the increasing popularity of smartphones. Currently 12% of its customers use a 2G network.

Digg is back already

Digg, the once high flying news social news site has already relaunched itself just six weeks after it was sold to Betaworks. The service now has a reworked web site and has refreshed its mobile app for the iPhone. Its main page is broken into three categories: Top stories, popular and upcoming.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Google I/O This Week

Google’s Goggle I/O show is this week so expect to hear an onslaught of news from the company and its partners on all things related to Android, smartphones, tablets, Chrome and most likely a host of other issues that they are concerned with.

The show will be held from June 27 to June 29 at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center and most of the keynote sessions will be live streamed for those of you that are interested but don’t want to endure the cold of an SF summer. (editor’s note: 75 degrees here today, Oregon boy.)

One message I would like to hear is how it will deal with the growing fragmentation of its Android operating system. It seems that most of the major manufacturers are only now coming on board with Ice Cream Sandwich, and a new OS is expected this week.

The issue is important for a number of reasons but a major one is that continued fragmentation could lead to developers only focusing on Apple’s iOS and even Windows 8 when that OS is available.

Intel invests in touchscreen developer
Intel Capital was the lead investor in a EUR20 million investment funding round for touchscreen technology developer FlatFrog Laboratories. Invus was also an investor in the round. FlatFrog is developing technology that tracks light traveling inside the cover glass of a screen.

Apple dealt a setback in battle with Motorola
Judge Richard Posner, who is presiding over one of the major patent disputes between Apple and Motorola, has ruled that Apple cannot pursue an injunction against Motorola and has dismissed the case with prejudice.

Posner had previously indicated that this was the direction he was leaning in but relented to allow testimony from both sides of the case last week. Apple does have the option to appeal his ruling.

Apple moving ahead in Samsung patent suit

While losing an important round to Motorola, Apple is continuing to push ahead with its Samsung lawsuit and will have its request to have a court order blocking sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 heard this week.

The judge in the case has also said that she hopes to rule on Apple’s bid to block sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone at the June 29th hearing.

Microsoft says no to Motorola patent proposal payout
Microsoft has declined to accept the offer that Motorola made that would settle the patent dispute between the two companies that has threatened Microsoft’s ability to ship Xbox 360 consoles into the US and would bar some Android phones from Motorola as well.

Motorola was offering to pay 33 cents per phone that uses Microsoft’s ActiveSync software and wants Microsoft to pay it 50 cents for each device that uses Microsoft’s Windows operating system that uses Motorola’s industry standard video compression patent.

Mobile Carriers agree to alert travelers on roaming charges
Have you ever traveled in a foreign country and used your smartphone and had a slight heart attack when you got your bill at home with the huge roaming charges attached? Now carriers are going to do something about that.

What they are doing is to send you a message alerting you to the fact that your data plan has changed and new rates will apply. Among the 24 that have signed on are AT&T, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom-Orange, Hutchison 3 Group, SoftBank Mobile Corp., Verizon Communications, America Movil, and Vodafone Group.

Apple fined over 4G claims
An Australian court has fined Apple $2.27 million over its claims for its iPad that included unsupported promises of 4G support. After the charges were brought Apple changed its advertising and offered refunds. Apple now touts the device as WiFi+ Cellular.