(MLB.com Image) The Seattle Mariners have a bunch of new faces on the field, a new name on the stadium and an increasingly new way to get tickets to a game as the Major League Baseball franchise is following others in the move to mobile ticket technology. The Mariners announced a mobile-only ticket promotion on Friday called Ballpark Pass. The offering was tested in a limited run last season and this year will allow fans to get standing-room access to all home games at T-Mobile Park for $99 a month. The team is following other Seattle franchises, including the Seahawks and Sounders FC, toward the migration to mobile delivery of single-game tickets this season. Season ticket holders have already been offered that option, but they can still opt for a book of printed tickets. Fans who purchase a single-game ticket this year will no longer receive a print-at-home PDF. Options now will be mobile (through the ), snail mail or will call. The latter options will include handling fees for each order. If you’re one of those kids who still likes to hold onto a game ticket as a souvenir, you can still get printed tickets when you buy at a Mariners Team Store or the T-Mobile Park box office. According to the team, about 60 percent of single-game buyers are already opting for mobile. The Mariners ticked off ease of use, speed, security, and reduction of paper waste as the reasons why. Learn more about the Ballpark Pass promotion .
, but already the Korean tech giant has revealed its entire upcoming range of wearable devices that will seemingly be unveiled alongside the Galaxy S10. That’s because the company’s was uploaded today with support for a range of unreleased products which include wireless earbuds, a sports-focused smartwatch, and a new fitness band. — and — the new wearables include a Galaxy Sport smartwatch, fitness bands Fit and Galaxy Fit e, Galaxy Buds, Samsung’s take on Apple’s AirPods. The devices have all been teased in various leaks in recent weeks but this confirmation from the Samsung app, deliberate or inadvertent, appears to all but confirm their impending arrival. That said, we really can’t tell too much about the respective devices based on the app, which just shows basic renders of each device. Still, that might just be enough of a tease to general a little more interest in what promises to be Samsung’s biggest consumer launch event of the year. The Samsung unveiling comes days before Mobile World Congress, the mobile industry’s biggest event of the year, kicks off — so expect to see new product launches coming thick and fast over the coming weeks.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson gives a thumbs up at an event at Zillow Group in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) Russell Wilson won’t suit up on Super Bowl Sunday but he’s still staying busy off the field in Atlanta this weekend. The Seahawks star quarterback has been making the rounds all week, jumping from media interviews to sponsor events to high-profile parties before today’s big game. Top of mind for Wilson is , a new sports prediction app that he’s been touting to reporters this week. The free-to-play app debuted a few months ago and offers real cash prize payouts to users who can make the most accurate prediction on. For the Super Bowl, it is offering a $250,000 grand prize to anyone who correctly predicts all 16 questions on the line. They range from specific in-game predictions — which team will have the longest field goal? — to off-the-wall questions such as: What color shirt will Adam Levine be wearing when he takes the stage for his halftime performance? Tally mimics gamification and engagement concepts from HQTrivia, a live mobile game which went viral last year. The app last month expanded beyond sports and ran predictions games for The Golden Globes, The Bachelor, and even President Trump’s national address on immigration. Prizes go to users who rack up the most points, which are awarded on a probability scale — if you predict something with a low chance of happening, you win more points. There’s also a jackpot — $250,000 for the Super Bowl — that goes to people who ace all the predictions. Tally funds the prize payouts, which are issued to winners via PayPal within three days. The company’s CEO, Jason LeeKeenan, said the app is not related to sports betting, which has caught the attention of investors and technologists expecting more legalization across the U.S. after a key Supreme Court last year. “We see this as a really friendly version of fantasy,” he GeekWire in November. Tally is an evolution of TraceMe, a celebrity content app that was the original premise of the company . TraceMe shut down , laying off staff and closing its Los Angeles office as it shifted focus to Tally. TraceMe had aimed to connect celebrities with “superfans” through its app via , community features, and more. But according to LeeKeenan, who now heads up Tally, the company overestimated the addressable market for TraceMe, which a $9 million round last year from investors such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, YouTube founder Chad Hurley, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai, and Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group. Speaking of Bezos — the Amazon chief is also in Atlanta this weekend. He and Wilson were spotted making a friendly exchange at the NFL Honors awards ceremony Saturday night. Sports reporter Darren Rovell posited that Bezos could be a potential new owner of the Seahawks, whose previous owner Paul Allen . Is Russell Wilson talking with his future owner tonight in Atlanta? Jeff Bezos has made the trip (
Former Sounders FC defender James Riley uses TorrX’s ball pump. (Photo via TorrX) TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: Inflating a soccer ball or football with the exact amount of air doesn’t seem like a huge deal. But whether it was the controversy that arose from “” or the damage an overinflated soccer ball can have on a teenager’s head, accurate gauge pressure is actually quite important. That’s why is finding early traction with its high-tech ball pump that has a built-in gauge and LED screen, making it easy to quickly inflate or deflate a ball to a precise pounds per square inch (PSI) measurement. Customers from around the world at all levels of soccer, from Major League Soccer to NCAA to leagues in Europe, are using the pump. The Seattle-area startup is focusing initially on soccer, but basketball, volleyball, rugby, and water polo teams have purchased its product. The company has validation from athletes like , a former Seattle Sounders FC defender who is building a youth soccer coaching program. “I have seen a lot of products come and go during my college and MLS career, but I really believe TorrX is the pump of the future because it is so accurate, easy to use, and durable,” he said in an email. Former U.S. Olympian and World Cup hero , who is now an assistant coach with the Santa Clara women’s soccer team, also vouched for the pump, particularly with . “I absolutely love my TorrX because it confirms that the weight of the ball will be age appropriate and absolutely spot on,” she told GeekWire. “As a coach, and parent, having the proper air pressure in the ball reassures me that the players and my kids will be safe. Anything we can do to help lower the number of concussions, the better. If the weight is right, as advocates for the game and its players, we can feel good sending our kids out to play. And at the end of the day, the experience on the field should have them leaving the field better and happier than when they got there.” Tom and (Photo via TorrX) , a veteran entrepreneur and City of Kirkland councilmember, came up with the idea for Torrx with his co-creator Sally Otten. “The TorrX checks a number of boxes for the user,” he said in an email. “First, it was designed to virtually eliminate the stresses that lead to needle breakage. In fact, this was the primary problem that seeded the effort to create the TorrX. Second, the TorrX enables easy access to a new level of accuracy in ball sports. Now, there is really little excuse for a ball that is under or over inflated. Coaches/referees/league or match management can now become much more specific about what constitutes a perfectly inflated ball for their sport and be sure the standard is easily adhered to.” The pump can inflate 50 soccer balls on one charge. It designed to get better over time, with algorithms that learn how to get the PSI more and more accurate with each use. The pump is currently available on but TorrX is exploring other sales channels. The company is bootstrapped and employs less than ten people in the Seattle region. Highlights from the week in sports tech Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton . Mobile alerts helped my colleague Kurt Schlosser , but he also relied on a $150 per month cable subscription. Perhaps the NBA’s idea will find traction. Speaking of the Mariners, the only way fans can watch next week’s game against Texas on May 16 will be via Facebook. The game won’t even be on TV. It’s part of Facebook inked with the MLB. Retired NBA star Chris Bosh showed up at the launch of NASA’s Mars InSight lander from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California — GeekWire space and science editor Alan Boyle . Fornite has become a cultural phenomenon. Now the video game is being blamed for keeping pitcher David Price off the field. The NBA and Intel Capital a new collaboration. Topgolf continues to stay innovative, with Lyft, which will have designated pick-up and drop-off zones at the high-tech golf driving range facilities. ESPN inked a deal with UFC , ESPN+. Former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard , Rival. NFL rookie QB Sam Darnold to enhance film sessions. looks at how video and new tech is changing track and field. Can blockchain technology ? The inventor of the yellow first-down marker was into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Thanks for tuning in, everyone! — Taylor Soper
I didn’t know that Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton was against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday until the game was practically over. But the fact that I caught the excitement of the rare baseball feat in real time, and how I shared it with friends, is another fun example of what it’s like to be a sports fan in 2018. The game from Toronto’s Rogers Centre started at 1 p.m. PT, and rather than lie on my couch at home or sit in a bar to watch a regular season game, I worked through most of it. On the way home, after 6 p.m. PT, I received an alert on my phone from ESPN, that Paxton hadn’t allowed a hit through eight innings. The alert came in at 6:17 p.m, and looking back at my history, it seems I missed one at 6:05 p.m. that said he’d made it through seven innings. Now, I don’t get a lot of alerts on my phone related to sports. I don’t need to be constantly updated on everything that’s happening across a host of leagues. I don’t subscribe to a Major League Baseball package that lets me watch every game on my phone when I should be paying attention to my wife. I just like “breaking news” style updates on teams that I care about. This qualified as something I wanted to see happen live. Alerts on Kurt Schlosser’s iPhone on Tuesday from ESPN about Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton. (GeekWire screen grab) So, Rather than get dinner started for my kids, I told them “there’s a good baseball thing happening that I have to see,” and I headed for the basement TV room. Here’s where I try to justify paying a painfully expensive Xfinity bill every month — $150 of which is just for cable TV. I’ve avoided cutting the cord because in moments like these I like the reliability of knowing just where to go on TV to watch history play out. It didn’t have to be a silly “sportsball” thing, it could have been something of actual import — name your breaking news flavor. Being in the news business all these years has fed that appetite — I think kids call it FOMO. So I picked up the fancy Xfinity remote control that lets me speak to it to change channels and I said “Root Sports,” knowing just where the Mariners game would be broadcast. I didn’t turn to Twitter or Facebook for running commentary from feeds I follow; I didn’t launch the ESPN app to watch animated baseballs sail across the screen in a gamecast version of the events. I texted a few friends. “Mariners game! Now!” because my kids weren’t providing the level of shared excitement that I needed with three outs to go. As Paxton took the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning, and recorded the first and then second outs, I stood up and pointed my phone at the TV. With two strikes on Blue Jays batter Josh Donaldson, I hit record for a video. With a 50-inch TV on the wall, I watched the sixth no-hitter in Mariners history through a 5 1/2-inch iPhone screen. .’s last three pitches:98 mph100 mph99 mph THAT’S how you finish a no-no. — MLB (@MLB) As third baseman Kyle Seager recorded the final out and Paxton was mobbed by his teammates on the pitcher’s mound, I ended the video at 44 seconds. I sat back down on my couch, briefly explained what a no-hitter was to my kids, turned off the TV and uploaded my video to my private Instagram. “Niiiiiiice,” I wrote, next to punching fist and Canadian flag emojis. Back upstairs in the kitchen, prepping for taco Tuesday — as was the plan before a push alert delayed things — I checked my phone here and there to make sure people were enjoying the video clip I sort of ripped off from Root Sports, Major League Baseball and the Mariners — if you can steal something you paid $150 to see. Official videos and images from the team began to fill my Twitter feed. Friends answered texts. Social media endorphins subsided. Game over. A post shared by (@mariners) on May 8, 2018 at 8:41pm PDT
TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: A new football league controlled by fans is the latest endeavor to make use of blockchain technology. The begins play next year and will allow fans to be apart of everything from play-calling to hiring general managers. The FCFL will feature eight indoor football teams playing one hour-long games in a production studio on a 50-yard field. Games will air on Twitch, the Amazon-owned streaming platform whose video overlay technology will allow fans to call plays in real-time. The league is also using helmet cameras, embedded chips in balls, drones, and other tech. The league this week that it has partnered with , a Seattle-based blockchain consulting group, to implement a first-of-its-kind blockchain token system. Fans will be able to earn Fan Access Network (FAN) tokens built on the Ethereum blockchain; the more tokens collected, the more power they’ll have to make decisions. , co-founder of FCFL, told GeekWire that his team wanted to use blockchain for three reasons: Voting transparency: “We’re letting fans dictate the careers of coaches and players, and the plays on the field,” he said. “We need to be able to provide true transparency in the voting process so there are no questions about the results.” Tokenization: “We’re building a ‘real-life video game’ so it’s a natural fit to have tokens in the game,” he said. “We’re tokenizing voting power in the league so the more FAN tokens a fan owns/earns, the more voting power the fan will have.” Digital collectibles: “We’re going to be tokenizing the players in the league and creating non-fungible digital ‘collectible tokens’ for each player, similar to trading cards,” he said. “We’re working with New Alchemy on some interesting ways to incorporate the collectible player tokens into fantasy sports games for the league.” New Alchemy is also an investor in the league, making a “low seven-figure” investment, Farudi said. Farudi and his colleagues tested an initial version of FCFL last year , an Indoor Football League team, and letting fans control plays with an app. FCFL is the latest evolution, expanding the format to an entire league with partners like Twitch and IMG Original Content. Highlights from the week in sports tech Amazon bought up more live sports rights, this time to stream the U.S. Open in Ireland and the U.K. on Prime Video. The NFL is investigating what it alleges as widespread fraud related to its $1 billion concussion settlement, reports . Amazon-owned Twitch from the NBA’s new 2K esports league. reports that MLB and the NBA are in talks to divest their stakes in DraftKings and FanDuel. Seattle startup Vicis for safe football helmets. Seattle esports betting startup Unikrn made another acquisition, to create the first “crypto gaming platform.” Another Seattle startup, IdealSeat, to integrate its ticketing intelligence platform. University of Pittsburgh awarded two projects for its first : tech that improves swimming technique, and a bio-screening platform that measures a user’s nervous system. Did you sign up for ESPN+? In case you missed it, on ESPN’s new $5 per month streaming service. Mobile Sports Report is out with . Blockchain-based startups are . Thanks for tuning in, everyone! — Taylor Soper