This week, we explore:
- The how cars, old and new, are gaining serious new features via software upgrades.
- The launch of America’s first professional eSport league and how colleges are using the new sport for recruitment.
- How Twitter is banking on integrating live TV into their platform to give its users content to rally around.
- Make your old car autonomous for $24 a month: Self-driving car startup Comma.ai claims their $999 aftermarket kit will allow buyers to give their cars semi-autonomous abilities on a par with Tesla’s Autopilot. The physical product will ship before the end of the year and will require a $24 monthly subscription fee for access to Comma.ai’s software, as well as certain in-car features like electronic power steering. [via The Verge]
- Your car’s new software is ready: Eventually, your car will be upgradable, like a giant smartphone. These aren’t just trivial upgrades either; Tesla’s upgrades have included an updated digital instrument panel, a revised touch screen, faster acceleration, activation of Autopilot and the ability for the vehicle to enter and exit a garage without anyone being in the car. Manufacturers like Ford and GM are also looking at software downloads as a new source of revenue, turning on features remotely if the owner pays a fee. [via The New York Times]
- Connected cars are alarmingly hackable: Just about every new car that rolls off the lot in this here future of ours comes equipped with some kind of wireless network that, according a damning new Senate report, “could pose vulnerabilities to hacking or privacy intrusions.” From a security standpoint, the chief concern here is that a hacker could remotely access a car’s electronic systems and put the driver at risk by disabling the breaks or commandeering the steering wheel. [via Fast Company]
Changing the (Video) Game
- America’s official eSports league launches: The Professional eSports Association (PEA) was announced last week, with commitment from seven leading North American eSports organizations at launch. It’ll include 10-week season when it launches in 2017 with live matches played twice a week for a $500,000 prize pot. The league sets out to share industry rewards among owners and players, who will receive an equal 50% portion of profits, retirement services, investment planning, health insurance, and more. [via Business Insider]
- UC Irvine unveils eSports arena: The University of California, Irvine announced the launch of an official eSports initiative. At the program’s center is a 3,500-square-foot facility with a stage for competitions, 80 personal computers and a live broadcasting studio. This space will serve as a major social hub for both the university’s student body and for the whole of Southern California. This is a major step forward for collegiate esports as gaming continues its ascension of the media sphere. Storied campus stadiums and arenas are massive attractions for prospective students and alumni alike. [via ESPN]
- A coach for competitive gamers: When athletes want to bring their skills in a sport to the next level, they often look to coaching. For people playing League of Legends, that’s really something that’s only available to top competitive gamers. Mobalytics, winner of last week’s TechCrunch Disrupt SF) is hoping to serve that need by bringing visual analysis to gamers that they can get quick insights from before and after each match. The company wants to streamline analytics for gamers and put context behind the bodiless numbers that are spit out to users. [via TechCrunch]
- Twitter Is ready for some football: Twitter Is ready for some football: The tech company streamed its first of 10 NFL games last Thursday. These games are part of a major initiative to use the video streaming of live events, particularly sports, as a way to drive user growth and engagement, and, in this way, ad sales. Additionally, the tech company created custom emoji for each of the 32 NFL teams, giving users an additional means to remain engaged throughout the games and the season. [via Inc.]
- Twitter’s plans to broadcast more than just sports: In some ways, it’s easy to make the case that only sports and world events need to be broadcast live. But there are lots of reasons live TV is valuable. For Twitter, it’s to give users a rallying point, something to talk about with also-interested strangers the world over. Twitter is still the place people talk about what’s happening now. Big moments like the Oscars, the World Cup, and the presidential debates, are when the service is the most fun. So for Twitter, the next step was simple: combine the conversation with the thing they’re all talking about. [via Wired]