TechStars, which provides seed funding from over 75 top venture capital firms and angel investors, has teamed up with sports footwear and apparel giant Nike to power the latter’s Nike+ Accelerator program, which will host 10 companies for a three-month, mentor-driven acceleration program.
CNET reported the company will take a 6 percent stake in each of the participating companies and make a $20,000 investment. The program aims to leverage the Nike+ platform to support digital sports technology innovation (FAQ section).
Nike says the Nike+ Accelerator will accept applications from “companies aiming to use Nike+ technology to create products and services that will inspire athletes across a broad range of activity and health goals including training, coaching, gaming, data visualization and quantified self”.
The application deadline is February 3, 2013.
The Nike+ Accelerator itself will be based in Portland, Oregon, near Nike’s HQ. Nike will provide the teams with development tools, office facilities, technical platforms and support to create solutions leveraging the Nike+ API and Nike+ mobile SDK.
Rick Turoczy, the general manager of the Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE), a joint venture of ad agency Weiden-Kennedy and venture capitalists, says Portland has managed to accumulate a diverse and critical mass of startup accelerators, including; Upstart Labs, StarveUps, Portland Startup Weekend, Portland Seed Fund, Portland State Business Accelerator, Portland Ten, OEN, OTBC, and his own Portland Incubator Experiment.
The Nike+ Accelerator stands to draw a whole bunch of interest from outside Portland and outside the US, like the Microsoft Kinect Accelerator, powered by TechStars, says Turoczy.
The Nike+ platform gives select partners access to the real activity data captured by the Nike+ FuelBand and Nike+ Running devices, used by millions of Nike+ users.
The native integration of Bluetooth 4.0 into smartphones and devices means that activity can be captured by tiny sensors directly on a smartphone, like the iPhone5, without the need of an external module, like the proprietary Ant+ standard.
Nike’s Hyperdunk+ basketball shoe, LunarTR1+ men’s training shoe and Lunar Hyperworkout+ women’s training shoe, have four pressure sensors that gather information from different parts of the foot and send it via Bluetooth wireless technology to an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch. A Nike+ Training app displays vertical jump, quickness, calories, “NikeFuel” points and other performance data.
Nike’s new high-tech sneakers, which went on sale June 29, are the first shoes with Bluetooth Smart sensors in them. Previously, Nike used the ANT+ standard for sensors, which required a plug-in iPhone module
But only Bluetooth LE is likely to be embedded into smartphones.
The M2M Challenge is a global competition that will spotlight the winning apps at Mobile World Congress 2013. There are five categories: automotive and transport, energy and smart grid, security and surveillance, healthcare and wellness, and consumer electronics. The best solutions in each category will be promoted internationally through the marketing channels of sponsors and partners, including global sponsors Swisscom and Ericsson. Winners also get $5,000. Entries close on December 31.
ABI Research forecasts shipments of Bluetooth enabled sports and fitness devices will grow ten-fold from 2011 to 2016, totaling 278 million and representing over 60 percent of the total available market.
In it’s new report, IC Insights says Bluetooth unit shipments will grow 29% per year over the 2010-2015 time period.
Juniper Research predicts by the year 2014, there will be a total of 2.7 million annual mobile health monitoring events globally, generating some $1.9 billion at the end of 2014.
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