Celebrity backing: Meet the athletes and A-listers investing in wearable tech

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Flash cars, big houses, luxury yachts. That's what we've come to expect big earning sport stars and Hollywood's elite to splash their enormous wages on.

But times have changed. Those famous faces are mixing time in the locker room or the film set to invest in exciting tech startups. Everyone knows that Will.i.am is trying to build his own wearable tech empire. But did you know that Jared Leto invested in Nest? And Justin Timberlake bought his own social network? Okay, so that last one maybe wasn't the best example.

Essential reading: 20 wearable tech startups to look out for

Now wearable tech startups are getting a helping hand too from some high profile investors whose involvement (financially and in name) can only be a good thing.

These are just some of the A-listers and athletes that decided to open up the wallet and show some love to the wearable tech startup scene.

Ashton Kutcher and Muse

Celebrity backing: Meet the athletes and A-listers investing in wearable tech

Kutcher has a pretty good track record when it comes to funding up and coming startups. He's invested in the likes of Spotify, Skype, Airbnb and also added the brain sensing Muse headband to that list.

The stress busting wearable uses EEG sensors positioned along your scalp that's able to measure brain activity in real time and uses audio cues to alert you to those stressed and calm moments.

It raised just under $300,000 through an Indiegogo campaign but since then has racked up over $7 million in investment including Kutcher's contribution.

You can see our full Muse review to see how we got on with the smart headband.

LeBron James and Whoop

Celebrity backing: Meet the athletes and A-listers investing in wearable tech

Not only is LeBron James the king of the NBA court, but he also has a side-gig involving Whoop. His trainer is an investor and LeBron has endorsed the wearable wristband designed for elite athletes like himself.

Read this: How wearables sensors could strike out injuries in US sports

It's packed with sensors to monitor biometric data like heart rate, heart rate variability and skin temperature. Coaches can tap into the data including how much sleep players have managed to squeeze in to pick the best players for the next game and help prevent an injury crisis.

It may have been banned from appearing on the basketball court during games, but Whoop is beginning to pop up in other individual and team sports - find out what we made of it in our Whoop Strap 2 review.

Will Smith and BioBeats

Celebrity backing: Meet the athletes and A-listers investing in wearable tech

The box office big hitter started his career making music and recently decided to back a startup which builds smartphone apps that generate music based on your heartbeat.

Biobeats' first app is Here and Now, which is currently available to download for free on iTunes and uses the heart rate and skin temperature data produced from the wearable around your wrist along with its own AI software to help you manage your stress. There's also a corporate wellness option so companies can keep on eye on those stress levels in the work place.

It's already raised a further $2.28 million to keep the business rolling, which should mean this isn't the last we hear of Will Smith's fave AI powered, biometric tracking apps.

Timbaland and SubPac

Celebrity backing: Meet the athletes and A-listers investing in wearable tech

Jay Z, Madonna, 50 Cent - the producer has worked with some of the biggest names in the music business, and now Tim Mosley (Timbaland) is backing startup SubPac and its wearable subwoofer.

The backpack-looking device uses haptic feedback technology that allows users to feel explosions and in-game audio. But it's not just about gaming. Music producers have been wearing them in the studio and Timbaland said that SubPac is a "game-changing experience for both artists and fans."

Mosley is joined by other high profile investors including NBA star Carmelo Anthony and Google co-founder, Android creator and now Essential founder Andy Rubin.

Andrés Iniesta and First1Vision

Celebrity backing: Meet the athletes and A-listers investing in wearable tech

In Europe, footballers are also becoming savvy to the wearable tech boom, with Barcelona midfielder Andrés Iniesta opting to back Spanish tech startup FirstV1sion and its innovative wearable camera technology.

Discreetly embedding cameras into clothing, FirstV1sion uses RF transmission technology that promises to deliver first person view recordings in broadcast quality. It's not clear how much Iniesta has invested, but it looks like he might be onto a winner here. It's already been tested in-game in Spain by La Liga team Cordoba and has also been endorsed by the EuroLeague basketball league.

Carmelo Anthony and Whistle

Celebrity backing: Meet the athletes and A-listers investing in wearable tech

Melo may be a 10-time NBA All-Star, but like his great friend LeBron, he also likes to dabble in technology. Through his venture capital fund, Melo7 Tech, the current Knicks point guard has made over 30 investments since 2013.

Perhaps one of his more notable, though, is the backing of the GPS pet tracker Whistle. Founded in 2012, Whistle raised $21 million in funding from the likes of Anthony before being sold in 2016 for a reported $119 million.

With a wide portfolio dedicated to tech, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Melo dig into his pockets and invest in more wearables in the near future.

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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