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By Nikki Cabus

StatusPRO announces $20M Series A Round Led by GV to Continue Revolutioning Sports Through XR

Read Time 5 Minutes

StatusPRO, Inc. announced $20 million in new funding, one of the largest Series A of any VR gaming company to date, led by GV (Google Ventures).

The Miami-based StatusPRO is a sports technology and gaming company that uses real-time player data to create authentic extended reality experiences using technologies such as augmented, mixed, and virtual reality. The company provides a suite of training and gaming products that revolutionize the way coaches, players, and fans experience their favorite sport. StatusPRO is minority-owned and led, where almost half of its employees in the United States are former athletes.

StatusPRO’s ties to the NFL and the NFLPA began in its club locker rooms when co-founders and former elite football players Troy Jones and Andrew (Hawk) Hawkins had a vision to develop Pre Game Prep, a tool that would bring the brand’s proprietary technology to NFL teams with the goal of improving the athlete training experience, which is now being utilized by NFL teams. The company’s investors include notables such as Naomi Osaka, LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Paul Wachter, Drake, Lamar Jackson, along with investment groups Greycroft, TitletownTech, Verizon Ventures, Haslam Sports Group, 49ers Enterprises KB Partners, and SC Holdings.

StatusPRO is joining Google Ventures‘ investment portfolio of successful tech, healthcare, and consumer companies, asserting its spot as a standout and growing VR company in the space. GV provides venture capital funding to bold new companies. Across the fields of life science, enterprise technology, consumer products and services, and frontier technology, GV’s portfolio companies aim to improve lives and transform industries. GV’s team of world-class engineers, designers, physicians, scientists, marketers, and investors work together to provide startups with exceptional support. Launched as Google Ventures in 2009, GV is the venture capital arm of Alphabet, Inc. GV helps startups interface with Google, providing unique access to the world’s best technology and talent. GV has over $8 billion under management.

“No matter if its virtual reality or spatial computing, our vision at StatusPRO is to define first-person sports and deliver experiences that truly embody the emotion, competition and sense of community that comes with being a professional athlete,” said Troy Jones, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of StatusPRO. “The investment from GV, Dream, and all other syndicates in the round, further validates the opportunity to leverage emerging technology to innovate the way fans interact with their favorite sports and define a new form of engagement that brings current and future fans closer to the game.”

After two years of laying a foundation in the sports gaming industry and establishing a new genre, first-person sports, StatusPRO will use the additional capital to broaden development into new sports titles while continuing to enhance its modes and features and further improve its cutting-edge technology. The round includes additional funding from India’s renowned sports-tech giant Dream Sports, Minnesota Vikings Owners Mark & Zygi Wilf’s Wise Ventures, JDS Sports, and Alumni Ventures, with participation from existing investors including LeBron James, Drake, Maverick Carter, Main Street Advisors, Haslam Sports Group and more.

In 2022, the Black-founded StatusPRO launched the first-ever NFL and NFLPA-licensed virtual reality (VR) simulation gaming franchise, NFL PRO ERA, and made its mark on the sports gaming category by allowing players to experience what it feels like to be on the field playing as QB of their favorite NFL team. This immersive, first-person simulation brings fans closer to the gridiron by giving them a professional football player’s perspective through VR technology. Last October, the franchise, which highlighted NFL MVP and All Pro QB Lamar Jackson as its cover athlete, saw an evolution that introduced new features such as head-to-head multiplayer gameplay so players could interact, connect, and compete against one another in the virtual world.

NFL PRO ERA is one of the most successful sports franchises in VR history. Since launch, StatusPRO has garnered over 1,000,000 users and players have spent an average of 41 minutes in game, estimated to be 2x longer compared to VR industry averages. As one of the top VR studios, StatusPRO has not only produced the fastest selling sports title in VR history but is a top title on the Meta Quest platform (top 10 in sales). NFL PRO ERA is among the most successful Black-founded gaming franchises ever.

Other substantial new investments came from a diverse group of athletes, entertainers, firms, and industry leaders including Myles GarrettDavid GrutmanBobby WagnerJeff StibelPeter Delgrosso, Cameron Jordan, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Crystal HayslettDevale Ellis, TitletownTech, Black Angel Group, Life Line Family Heritage Fund, Sun Technology Investors, Andre Gaines of Cinemation Studios, and the Fuller Brothers of 6408 Ventures, among others.

“StatusPRO is building the next generation of sports and gaming entertainment through cutting-edge virtual reality. The company’s unique technology-driven approach and meaningful partnerships have resulted in strong early growth and product traction,” said M.G Siegler, Venture Partner at GV. “Troy Jones and Andrew Hawkins have built an impressive team and track record of execution in a short time, and we’re thrilled to support StatusPRO as they move the VR gaming industry forward.”

VR gaming continues to grow in popularity. The global VR gaming market is projected to grow from $7.92 billion in 2021 to $53.44 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 31.4% in forecast period 2021-2028 period. With this projected growth, StatusPRO prepares for ongoing customer acquisition and retention while continuing to solidify the company as the innovative leader redefining the sports gaming world and eyeing global expansion in the sports VR market with a focus on future sports IP.

“As a former professional athlete, working with a dedicated team of people who have all participated in sports and worked for years across the sports business industry at a high level, we understand what it takes to compete and win,” said Andrew Hawkins, co-founder and President of StatusPRO. “We believe that VR is the innovative answer to help allow fans globally to see and experience what it’s like to be a Pro. This is just the beginning for StatusPRO and paves the way for us to enter additional sectors of sports VR, opening doors for us to explore other professional sports avenues and teams.”

StatusPRO’s NFL PRO ERA is available on the Meta Quest, Official PlayStation™, Pico, and Steam Store.

For more information on StatusPRO, please visit

By Nikki Cabus

HADO Team USA joins the World Cup in Tokyo, Japan for the first time ever

Read Time 4 Minutes

The innovative sport of HADO, which blends augmented reality and esports, has taken a significant step towards global recognition. Team USA has been invited to participate in the HADO World Cup set to take place in Tokyo, Japan on October 21-22. This is a first for the United States!

HADO is the world’s first physical esport using Augmented Reality (AR) technology. Geared up with a head-mounted display and arm sensor in a physical skill-based competition, three-person teams leverage their skills by firing energy balls and placing shields to accumulate points in lightning-fast 80-second matches. Players literally experience being inside a real life computer game. It’s “Dodgeball meet Marvel!”

Hiroshi Fukuda, Founder of HADO, turned his childhood dreams into augmented reality, giving birth to HADO. Since then, millions have experienced this exhilarating sport in over 30 countries, both for fun and in fierce competition. Through an exclusive agreement with meleap Inc, Hiroshi Fukuda, gave HADO USA which is based in South Florida and the exclusive rights to all HADO related activities in the United States including building the team that will represent the country in the 2023 World Cup.

The theme “Evolved & Reborn,” expressing “Evolution” and “Rebirth,” has been chosen as the theme of the worldwide tournaments for the 2023 World Cup. Team USA will compete against the world’s finest teams from Japan, China, England, Turkey, France, and beyond.


“This is an incredible opportunity for our country to compete on the world stage and we are working tirelessly to assemble and train a competitive team,” Shane Vander Koi, Co-Founder & CEO of HADO USA, told South Florida Tech Hub.

“However, we need your support to make this endeavor a reality. Being a new event in the U. S. market, we are exploring various avenues to offset the substantial costs associated with training and sending the team to Japan on such short notice.”


Why Support Team USA in HADO?

HADO is not just a sport; it’s a fusion of technology and athleticism that has captured the hearts of many. Here’s why your support for Team USA in HADO is vital:

1. Exposure: Your logo prominently displayed on our competition uniforms and practice apparel including HADO staff which includes at local demonstrations in Palm Beach County schools, providing year-round exposure following the Tokyo World Cup.

2. Online Presence: Your logo featured on the HADO USA website as the official sponsor, across our social media channels, and marketing materials leading up to the competition in Japan and beyond, extending throughout the school and competition season.

3. Case Study Opportunity: Opportunity for interviews and quotes in an upcoming HADO Academy case study. This valuable asset will be used to market our programs to scholastic and collegiate audiences, providing a global perspective by incorporating insights from our international HADO counterparts.

4. Exclusive Benefits: An invitation for a representative to join us as an honored guest of TEAM USA in Japan (travel expenses not included), facilitating direct interactions with other international teams at the event.

5. Recorded Messages: Recorded or directly streamed messages that we will share during Team USA’s journey.

6. Special Demonstrations: HADO USA will conducting a special HADO demonstration for your staff and clients accompanied by a recognition award presentation.

7. Member Benefits: Special feature article in South Florida Tech Hub newsletter, on social media, and official Press Release out to all media outlets. South Florida Tech Hub has also agreed to give provide sponsorship of HADO’s interactive booth at this year’s TECHpalooza on December 14th in Ft. Lauderdale, as well as an exhibit table for the company.


This is a unique opportunity for exposure. The HADO World Cup is expected to receive substantial media coverage, and the HADO parent company, meleap, intends to leverage game footage and event videos for long-term promotion of HADO sales and global growth. Any logos and sponsorships associated with Team USA will have lasting visibility beyond the event itself. Supporting Team USA on this journey not only enables the US Team to participate in the HADO World Cup, but also contributes to the global growth of HADO, showcasing the innovative spirit of the South Florida Tech Hub community. Your support will help us make history and represent the United States at the HADO World Cup in Tokyo. Together, we can take HADO to new heights!

HADO USA has also created a GoFundMe page for any individual supporters and smaller donations from companies. The donations will help cover Professional Training, Tournament Participation (airfare, accommodation, and related expenses), Team Branding (team logo, jerseys, and marketing materials), and Community Engagement (underserved youth in South Florida).

“The HADO USA Team has made the promise to pursue the Techno Sport dreams with unwavering dedication, integrity, and sportsmanship. With your support, we aim to represent our community with pride and bring glory to our nation. Thank you for being a part of our journey,” said Vander Koi. “Donate today and become an integral part of Team HADO USA’s legacy as we aim for victory on the global stage!”

Any companies interested in sponsorship, please email or contact HADO USA directly


By Nikki Cabus

University of Miami students among finalists at this year’s AWE XR Prize Challenge on Fighting Climate Change

Read Time 4 Minutes

The University of Miami‘s The Mangrove City project is among this year’s finalists for the AWE 2023 XR Challenge. 

Mangrove City is a VR experience designed for middle school students to explore the crucial role of mangrove forests in protecting coastal communities and mitigating climate change. The VR experience was developed by a team of University faculty, staff members, and students as a part of UM’s XR Initiative active in the fields of architecture, health care, sustainability, climate change, art history, behavioral research, human-computer interfaces, UI/UX, new media, and narrative/storytelling research.

Augmented World Expo. or AWE, launched the “XR Prize Challenge: Fight Climate Change” in October 2022. The challenge gives subject matter experts, engineers, entrepreneurs, technologists, and other professionals an avenue where they can use XR technology to visualize information and create potential solutions to fight climate change. A group or individual has a chance at winning a cash prize of $100,000.

There were four distinct categories under which entrants could submit their nominations. These categories were:
  1. Replacing Wasteful Material Consumption – For solutions that demonstrate that XR is a viable medium for reducing society’s dependence on wasteful transportation, consumption of goods, and unsustainable real estate development.
  2. Visualizing The Causes & Impacts of Climate Change – For solutions that demonstrate XR’s unique ability to educate people about the causes and effects of climate change, and influence behaviors and policies to promote equity and fairness.
  3. Educating About Solutions to Climate Change – For solutions that demonstrate XR as a unique story-telling medium for giving a voice to climatologists and sustainability solutions providers, providing them with a powerful platform to educate communities and expand their reach.
  4. Optimizing Design & Execution of Climate Solutions – For solutions that demonstrate XR as a unique decision-optimization tool, enabling professionals to design and develop perfected solutions that give us the best possible chance to mitigate and reverse climate change.

In January 2023, with hundreds of submissions from around the world, 150 projects from six different continents were chosen to move onto the MVP Phase.” They had to demonstrate a minimum viable product and highlight to judges exactly how their solutions addressed aspects of:

  1. Creativity – Entrants had to demonstrate how their submissions exhibited appropriateness, quality, beauty, design, and originality, as well as highlight the uniqueness of their XR product or project as a solution for fighting climate change.
  2. Functionality – Entrants had to show how their submissions took into account a range of functional requirements, including thoughtful user experience, access, ease of use, and an innovative user interaction associated with their XR-based solutions.
  3. Impact – Entrants had to quantify the impact that their XR-based solutions would have and demonstrate how they would deliver on their promise to fight climate change, including the viability of the solution in the marketplace, its ability to be scaled, and how a solution would be demonstrated or calculated to achieve its intended effect.

Then, on May 3rd,  2023, AWE announced the finalists for the XR Prize challenge – only 11 were chosen – and the University of Miami made the cut!

AWE’s website states that “many of the finalists demonstrated innovative ways in which augmented, virtual and mixed reality technology can be used to help humanity in its fight against one of the biggest existential threats that we are facing as a species today – climate change.”

“It’s humbling to work with so many diverse teams haling from all around the globe and truly inspiring to see and experience so many creative proposals to harness XR in our fight against climate change,” said Dace Campbell, XR Prize Manager, ”

Dace is a professionally licensed architect with extensive experience developing and implementing strategy and innovation with an expertise in XR technology: researching, developing, testing, and applying XR on hundreds of successful projects. Throughout his career, Dace has been a champion for the  the use of virtual reality and augmented reality in industry. He has proven they enhance productivity, sustainability, and equity for designers, builders, and owners winning multiple awards for furthering industry excellence. 

👉🏽 Check out UM’s video here. 🎥

Each team will demonstrate their solutions at final presentations in-person in front of a live judging panel on May 30th at AWE 2023 held in Santa Clara, California. The XR Prize winner(s) will be announced on June 1 at the event during the Auggie Awards ceremony.

The judges panel includes:

  • Katerina Cizek – Award-winning documentary director whose body of work includes documenting the Digital Revolution. Cizek is also the co-founder of the Co-Creation Studio.
  • Robert Fine – Executive director and founder of the International Virtual Reality and Healthcare Association (IVRHA).
  • Marina Psaros – Sustainability expert who has over a decade of experience leading climate action programs. Psaros is also Unity’s global sustainability lead.
  • Dr. Erika Woolsey – Dr. Woolsey is a marine biologist, as well as the chief scientist and co-founder of the Hydrous, a non-profit organization that uses science-based experiences and scalable solutions, such as VR, to further our understanding of and education on ocean science.
To view all 11 finalist projects selected for the final round, click here.

By Nikki Cabus

Ft. Lauderdale’s FIT:MATCH honored as high impact tech startup in the international The Lead 100 List 2023

Read Time 5 Minutes

The Leading 100 List 2023, the highly anticipated international annual research list recognizing innovative tech start-ups driving the future of brand-to-consumer has been announced and the local Ft. Lauderdale-based FIT:MATCH has made the list.

FIT:MATCH is a ‘Digital Twin Matching Platform’ for B2B apparel brands enabling them to match their customers with the best-fitting products. The company’s patented algorithms derive a shopper’s 3D body shape, or “digital twin,’ using augmented reality and LIDAR-powered devices, to make personalized product recommendations in hard to fit categories. FIT:MATCH is designed to eliminate brands’ and consumers’ questions about fit in order to drive conversion and loyalty, while reducing returns.

The Leading 100 List, produced by The Lead, recognizes high impact technology start-ups that are transforming the direct-to-consumer business model and driving business value for brands as well as retailers. These young companies are venture capital funded and predominantly in their seed or series A round of financing. The Leading 100 companies are solving business problems, powering growth, and helping brands deliver on customer expectations through innovative, accessible, and powerful technology solutions. All companies were vetted and selected using a rigorous methodology which measured Innovation, Business Impact, Commercialization & Customers, Teams & Experience, Competition, Media Buzz, and Investor Value Creation. Company data was collected via a combination of CEO interviews, company nomination data, and publicly available market data.

FIT:MATCH, the digital twin platform, recently partnered with disruptor brand Savage X Fenty, in collaboration with Intel to launch the next generation of its award-winning, patented body shape technology. The product, dubbed Fit Xperience, gives shoppers the opportunity to get scanned in an in-store fitting room using Intel’s RealSense technology and the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit.

Within seconds, customers are matched with the best-fitting Savage X styles based on their exact body shape. This first-of-its-kind experience is available exclusively at Savage X Fenty retail stores, debuted at its new Lenox Square Mall location in Atlanta, Georgia in February.

This new experience weaves together augmented reality, computer vision and artificial intelligence, creating a re-imagined in-store fitting room experience. Shoppers who take part in Fit Xperience step into the fitting room where Intel RealSense depth sensors create an anonymized avatar based on their exact body shape. The technology then compares the shopper’s body to the database of digital twins (bodies that have been scanned previously), and – with an AI assist from Intel OpenVINO – recommends the best-fitting products to the shopper. By using depth sensors, and not cameras, to generate a mapping of a shoppers’ shape, FIT:MATCH has ensured the entire experience is both safe and private, with no videos and pictures taken or stored. The process is also extremely fast — it takes less than 30 seconds from beginning to end — saving time, both for the shoppers and the store associates.

Savage X Fenty closed a strategic investment in FIT:MATCH last year to accelerate expansion of the AR-powered technology, which solves the fit challenge that has long plagued brands and consumers by utilizing body shape data rather than just standard measurements.

This is the type of “high impact technology” that The Lead is looking for in their startups honored in The Lead 100 List 2023.

“Capitalizing on the learnings from the initial Fit Xperience rollout, we wanted to take the entire experience to the next level. This new product leverages Intel’s RealSense technology, as well as OpenVINO software to deliver a powerful, fast, and immersive shopping experience,” said Haniff Brown, Founder and CEO of FIT:MATCH. “We truly believe this is the most frictionless in-store fitting experience on the market.”

Companies from across the value chain all around the world — including marketing, ecommerce, customer experience, stores, data, AI, last mile, checkouts and payments, sustainability, merchandising, and Web3 — were nominated & considered. All companies were vetted and selected using a rigorous methodology which measures Innovation, Business Impact, Commercialization & Customers, Teams and Experience, Competition, Media Buzz, and Investor Value Creation. The selection committee, led by The Lead’s Chief Content Officer, Sonal Gandhi, conducted the analysis and final selection.

“The pace of change in the fashion, beauty and consumer industries has become dizzyingly fast, even for the industry leaders,” says Gandhi. “The companies selected for The Leading 100 list represent some of the best examples of how technology innovation is helping address the needs of this rapidly evolving business environment. Some are helping brands get the best out of the latest advances in powerful technologies such as AI, while others are creating solutions to optimize efficiency and productivity across the value chain.”

The Leading 100 List of 2023 is presented in partnership with RILA, NYFTL, XRC Ventures, Plug & Play, The Robin Report, and SUBTA. The Leading 100 Selection Committee includes: Pano Anthos, Founder & Managing Director, XRC Ventures; Jackie Trebilcock, Managing Director, New York Fashion Tech Lab; Nicholas Ahrens, Senior Vice President of Strategy, Innovation & Content, RILA; Nick Reasner, Director, Innovation & Customer Experience, Simon Property Group; Chip Korn, Partner & Co-chair, Emerging Company & Venture Capital Practice Group, Foley Hoag; Ken Pilot, Founder, Ken Pilot Ventures; Will Decker, Head of Brand & Retail, Plug & Play Tech Center; Christine Russo, Principal, RCC Agency; Tom Barbaro, Co-Founder, Cogent; Juan Mejia, Managing Director, BrightTower; Ian McGarrigle, Chairman, World Retail Congress; and Robin Lewis, Founder & CEO, The Robin Report.

“At XRC Ventures, we are excited about new technologies that empower brands and retailers to innovate,” says XRC Ventures Founder & Managing Director, Pano Anthos. “The Leading 100 List includes startups that are doing just that by developing and leveraging new approaches in AI applications, spatial intelligence, supply chain redesign, sustainably-focused methods, and more. I look forward to seeing these startups help lead our industry into the future.”

The Leading 100 will be honored at The Lead Innovation Summit on July 12th & 13th, The Lead’s flagship event where the entire fashion, beauty, home, CPG, food, beverage, health, wellness, and retail innovation community will converge to engage the future of the direct-to-consumer business model. The annual event will bring together executives from enterprise brands and retailers, challenger DTC brands, innovative unicorns, technology start-ups, enterprise technology, investors, dealmakers, analysts, and stakeholders that comprise The Lead’s network.



The Leading 100 List of 2023

Accrue Savings
Alloy Automation
Archive Resale
Crossing Minds
Curated for You
Factored Quality
Fuse Inventory
Haus Analytics
Hexa 3D
Howl Technologies
Lily AI
Link Money
Osa Commerce
Pipe 17
Syrup Tech
Triple Whale
Try your best

By Nikki Cabus

Re-Discovering Innovation at TECHPalooza 2022!

Read Time 7 Minutes

Where do we start?

You may think that not having a main highlight at this year’s event would be a bad thing. In fact, it’s just the opposite. There were so many exciting things happening this year, we don’t know which was better. I guess it depends on who you ask.

From flying cars, augmented reality dodgeball, robot dogs, 3D printers, speaking sessions and taking over an entire museum, this year’s TECHpalooza was one for the books!

Over the past couple decades, Florida has consistently been ranked as one of the top states in the country for entrepreneurial activity, but has struggled to gain national attention as a true technology hub attracting businesses, talent, and funding. Technology and STEM related fields such as fintech, healthtech, proptech, oceantech and aerospace have been a focus for the state for years, but now just starting to the attention. Over the past few years, others areas of the state such as Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville have really stepped up and helped put Florida on a national (and international) level.

TECHpalooza is here to showcase that technology.

Formerly known as ITpalooza, the event has been know as one of the main annual tech events in South Florida attracting approximately 1000 – 1500 each year. It started as a holiday party and local meetup with many IT and MSP folks in the community and grew over the years into something much more.

Being at the intersection of it’s 10th year anniversary and the first one back in person since the pandemic, TECHpalooza 2022 was due for a little shakeup!

The 2022 theme was Re-discovering Innovation so we wanted to create an environment where our tech professionals and executives could re-discover that child-like wonder of discovery STEM for the first time. Presenting sponsor, Dynatrace, was on board!

The Tech Hub team decided to move the event from the Broward County Convention Center to the Museum of Discovery & Science in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. MODS was gracious enough to allow Tech Hub to do a museum takeover and use the IMAX theatre, multiple classrooms, and the entire 2-story museum to feature the events’ keynote sessions, panel discussions, interactive activities, and 50 featured exhibitors. Imagine having your booth right next to a life size replica of an extinct megalodon or the live otter viewing area!

There were almost 20 sessions with discussions touching on topics from cybersecurity to mixed reality, but the opening keynote sure made a splash that morning.

Serial entrepreneur, inventor and Founder of Magic Leap, Rony Abovitz, was interviewed by David Coddington, Sr. VP of Business Development at The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.

Abovitz is not only the Founder of Magic Leap, but also the founder of Z-Kat Inc, Mako Surgical Corporation, and Sun and Thunder. He had never shared his founder journey publicly so it was a great honor for all in attendance.

The other two keynote sessions of the day were Sam Jaddi, CIO at ADT, who spoke about the importance of culture within a company in his talk titled ‘Change the Culture – Change the Game,’ and Chuck Miller, VP of Global Solutions Engineering at Dynatrace, educated the audience on the topic of ‘Modern Cloud Done Right.”

Additional sessions topics included Smart Cities, ClimateTech, Cybersecurity, Web3, Data and AI, The Future of Work, Mixed Reality Tech, Digital Transformation, Cloud Migration, Robotic Process Automation, and the Future of Flying Cars. Yup – flying cars.

Sessions were sponsored by Dynatrace (the event’s Presenting Sponsor), LAN Info Tech, Excess IT Hardware, Focus Global Talent Solutions, Brightline Trains and South Florida Business & Wealth.

In between educational speaking sessions and networking with exhibitors, VIP attendees got a chance to relax and get some coffee and food in the VIP Lounge, sponsored by the TechStrong Group with Coffee Bar sponsored by General Provision and VIP swag bags by OZ Digital Consulting.

There were food trucks and outdoor food court area sponsored by Culture Partners and a station with free snacks and water for all guests, sponsored by Origina.

Some of the featured interactive exhibitors featured this year were:

Doroni Aerospace, an eVTOL, short for electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (AKA ‘flying cars’) gave attendees to see their first flying car prototype ever. Over $6B was invested in eVTOLs in 2021 alone, and 5 of the largest air taxi companies went public for a combined market cap of $10.7B

They are already a leader in the 2-seater segment of this industry, with a vehicle designed for personal use with potential use cases in law enforcement, search & rescue, and emergency response. The company had a cockpit protype there to educate attendees about their soon-to-launch vehicles for pre-purchase.

HADO featured an exciting interactive arena where you could challenge another team to a dodgeball game by launching virtual blue fireballs, blocking those thrown at you with energy walls, and racking up points for your team. HADO combines traditional sports with competitive gameplay as the world’s first Augmented Reality (AR) physical Esport.

The company launched in Japan where the game is highly competitive and sold out arenas bring thousands of players and fans together to watch a team battle it out for cash prizes. HADO was recently launched right here in South Florida as the U.S.-based headquarters and the company is starting with schools as an immediate target audience.

It’s fast-paced, fun, and catching on quickly.

NextEra Energy brought out some of their drone technology as well as a little friend named Spot.

Spot may not be a cuddly puppy, but this robot dog built by Boston Dynamics can be deployed amidst storms to perform essentials functions that would normally be required to be performed manually. Spot can collect substation data earlier, allowing improved coverage without risk to humans. He even had his first Super Bowl ad cameo in 2020.

Spot became fast friends with Florida Robotics’ walking and talking robot Izzy. The new pair were certainly a sight to see.

The SilverLogic, a custom software development company, had a large interactive space showcasing multiple technologies they had built for some of their clients.

They are a global organization of full-time software engineers, designers and architects focused on developing and delivering products that help businesses grow. TSL works with clients in all sorts of industries tacking issues through app creation to process automation.

Three of the featured interactive technologies that TSL featured were Lumentender, a lighting controller app, Why The Face, a facial feature detection app, ZF, an augmented reality boat parking assistance app, and a generative AI demo using test-to-image AI models to generate images with Demo Stable Diffusion and GPT3.

Lime Design, one of the leading product design companies in the U.S. and a local tech and creative hub in Hollywood, was there to feature some of the cool technologies they use when designing, prototyping and developing their one-of-a-kind products for clients.

From 3D printers, CNC machine, plasma cutters, laser cutters, blasters, graphics machines and so many more, Lime Design has all the equipment and professionals needed to bring products to life.

Attendees got the opportunity to learn more about how products are created and built, see a couple 3D printers and CNC machines at work. Just in time for the World Cup, Founder Rodrigo Lima, even printed a replica World Cup trophy that was later raffled off that night.

EventFy, a Miami-based startup company and XR virtual event metaverse cross device platform showcased its futuristic technology to business executives.

The platform allows users to be transported to another world using AR, VR, and XR tech. You can get comfortable, enjoy and relax in this new immersive experience while attending a concert, trade show, or board meeting. The possibilities are endless.

EventFy has already nabbed clients such as the NFL and Televisa Univision!

The day ended with live music from our Tech Hub band, The Cyberdelics which includes Kelly Boyle, Tech Hub board member, Jeb Reynolds, Tech Hub Ambassador, and Lenny Chesal, former board member and current Tech Hub advocate. Food and drinks were sponsored by Semantix and Gravity IT Resources.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who came together to make this year a success. The City of Ft. Lauderdale, Mayor Dean Trantalis, City Manager Greg Chavarria, NBC South Florida, our volunteers, the Dan Marino Foundation, organizing committee and so many others. Although you may not be mentioned here, we know who you are and thank you!

We have big plans over the coming years so make sure you are a part of all the action. See you at TECHpalooza 2023!

By Nikki Cabus

World’s first AR techno sport HADO celebrates agreement with Japan’s meleap

Read Time 4 Minutes

HADO USA Technology Sports Inc. is celebrating an exclusive agreement with Meleap Inc. that will accelerate the future of sports in the USA.

HADO is the first-ever physical esport in the world using Augmented Reality (AR) technology. Unlike Virtual Reality (VR), HADO players aren’t restricted by the cumbersome cables, controllers, and screens required to navigate virtual environments. The more well-known Virtual Reality (VR) takes you into the digital world while Augmented Reality (AR) brings digital elements into your world. HADO players run freely within real-world arena battles, wearing wireless head mounted displays and wrist motion sensors, using only gestures to unleash super powered projectiles on opponents.

Meleap Inc. CEO, Hiroshi Fukuda and the founder of the leading-edge AR technology sport HADO, dreamed of throwing “hadoken” or a special attack fireball, like in the comics, on TV, and in the popular arcade game Street Fighter. This passion burned inside until HADO was realized as a sport in 2014. Today, players can strap on head-mounted displays and armband sensors to wield energy balls and shields on a real-world court as if by magic.

Fukuda proudly held an offline ceremony celebrating the partnership agreement with HADO USA Technology Sports Inc. and its founder and CEO, Shane Vander Kooi.

“It was such an honor to be hosted at the brand new Meleap world headquarters and flagship HADO Arena in Tokyo. To finally meet the creator and visionary behind the worlds first AR physical techno sport, CEO Hiroshi Fukuda, along with the Board of Directors was an event I’ve really been looking forward to,” posted Vander Koi in a recent social media post.

“I especially appreciated the warm hospitality of CBO, Kent Lim, and Sales Director Jocelyn Bouchet. We have lots of exciting HADO news to share with America so stay tuned!”

The two companies started the negotiation online two years ago during the pandemic to search for the best opportunities to work together to lay the foundation for HADO in the US market, concluding an agreement in November 2021.

“We feel very honored that the team at meleap has placed their trust in us with this exclusive partnership,” shared Vander Kooi, HADO USA CEO. “HADO is ideally positioned to capitalize on the extraordinary growth trends fueled by GenZ engagement in esports, gaming, sport and immersive entertainment as well as the convergence of the new economies embodied by the metaverse, blockchain and creator communities,” Vander Kooi continued.

HADO has already been experienced by over 2.5M people and rapidly expanded to dozens of countries through a global community of arenas and teams.  Sports, fitness, entertainment and community are the four main elements of HADO.  Crossing the boundaries between sports and gaming in the 5G era, HADO is positioned to bring the metaverse into the real world.

“What was especially worth noting about this competition is that meleap has taken the innovative step by making fans a part of the game via their proprietary Wow Live app.  This entertainment platform app is used to not only view a live-stream of these celebrity HADO matchups, but is used as a tipping platform empowering fans with the ability to  sway the game in favor of their favorite players and teams,” Vander Kooi told South Florida Tech Hub. “HADO is already the world’s first physical augmented reality sport and is pioneering a transformation of both sports and the spectator experience,” he continued.

The AR techno sport is played 3-on-3 within a real-life court or arena with individual fast-paced, highly physical games lasting 80 seconds each. (See video below.) “HADO allows players to literally, Get in the Game! We look forward to expanding the HADO community throughout the US and joining the international HADO community”, said Vander Koi.

Based on this exclusive partnership, both companies are eager to put more resources in one of the biggest markets in the world to establish a strong footing for the location-based-entertainment (LBE) business, as well as to explore the potential online entertainment business opportunities.

“In the immediate future we look forward to announcing a number of exciting new HADO activations, including one opening in Las Vegas next month.  We are also in discussions with multiple collegiate and scholastic partners and hope to begin piloting league play shortly,” Vander Kooi told South Florida Tech Hub. “As a start-up here in the US, we are raising capital to support our aggressive expansion plans and welcome interest from potential strategic and investment partners.  We’re looking forward to developing and supporting a HADO community across the country and furthering our partnership with meleap in Japan!”

The perfect integration of AR technologies and physical sport continues to evolve, bringing a whole new level of excitement to all demographics in the market! Now is the time to join HADO USA and Get in the Game by visiting .



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