SoftBank invests in sports tech startup HEED

HEED, a new consumer platform that is seeking to transform the sports and entertainment event experience through Internet of Things (IoT) analytics and artificial intelligence, has secured $35m (£26.9m/€30.3m) in fresh investment through a funding round led by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group International.

The investment will aim to bolster HEED’s expansion as it partners with sports clubs and leagues around the world in a bid to create deeper connections with mobile fans.

Co-founded by IoT company AGT International and the Endeavor agency, HEED is headquartered in New York and uses AI to identify an event’s most exciting moments and IoT-based data analytics to generate new insights and automatically deliver them in near real-time to mobile devices.

HEED places sensors around the event venue, even potentially on players’ clothing and equipment, and holds existing partnerships with the likes of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Euroleague Basketball and various football clubs.

“At HEED, we see a world in which live events become global digital experiences, spectators become participants, and stats become stories,” HEED CEO Danna Rabin said in a statement. “The platform we’ve built provides league and team partners with an innovative way to grow their fanbases across different geographies, demographics and sports categories and engage with them in a different way. This investment is an exciting step forward for us as we transform the future of sports for our partners and their global fans.”

Stating that HEED’s primary mission is to connect with the youth audience, Rabin added to the TechCrunch website: “One of our core promises is that it (the content) is not editorial driven. The AI is selecting what’s interesting in a match.

“Of course, we have a creative team that designs the formats, the visuals, how the packaging should look like, but that’s incorporated into the technology, which is automatically selecting the moments and creating the experiences with no human interpretation.”

In a statement, Alok Sama, president and chief financial officer of SoftBank Group International, said: “By leveraging AI and IoT, HEED has developed a unique platform that is changing the way fans watch and interact with sports.

“HEED is taking a traditionally static experience and providing fans with deeper insights into the physical and emotional aspects of the sporting event by gathering and analysing large, complex data in real time.”

Image: HEED