sports technology Archive

Major League Baseball gives the nod to wearable technology

The MLB has now given its approval for the use of wearables throughout its current season.

The Major League Baseball (MLB) playing rules committee for the sport has now given its approval for the use of either of two different wearable technology devices during the games throughout the current playing season.

The two wearable devices that have received the MLB’s approval aren’t exactly the usual Fitbit.

Instead, the first is the Motus Baseball Sleeve, which is wearable technology for gauging stress to the elbows of a player. The second is the Zephyr Bioharness, which monitors breathing and heart rates of the players. Aside from those two, the committee has also gone ahead to give their approval for a couple of sensors for the baseball bats. Those bat sensors are to be used on the field during workouts, as opposed to during the games themselves. The first of the sensors is from Blast Motion while the second is from Diamond Kinetics.

The goal is to use wearable technology to identify player habits that may eventually lead to injuries.

Werable Technology - MLBThat said, the players union has expressed some concern with regards to the use of wearables and maintaining player privacy. It wants to ensure that the information collected by the teams will respect the privacy of the players. Both sides of this discussion have agreed that there will need to be talks throughout the bargaining that will occur this year.

At the time of the writing of this article, none of this information had been officially announced. Instead, people with knowledge of this subject were willing to share what they knew with the media in exchange for anonymity.

Technically, this is not the first time the sleeve wearable tech received approval. Last year, the committee gave provisional approval for that device. That said, this does represent the first time that full consent was given for the use of this or any other wearable device by the MLB.

The committee that gave the approval for the wearable technology device use consisted of Chris Antonetti from Cleveland, John Schuerholz from Atlanta, Terry Ryan of Minnesota, and John Mozeliak from St. Louis.

Wearable technology is bringing up questions in ethics in pro sports

As wearables continue to evolve, leagues are finding themselves asking many new questions about its use.

There is no question that wearable technology has an amazing amount of potential when used by players in professional sports leagues, but the specific way in which collected data is used is starting to generate a massive number of ethical questions.

Athletes already have massive amounts of data collected and analyzed about their performances on the field.

For many years, leagues have been measuring how fast athletes move, how far they run, how fast they throw, how frequently they score and a great deal more. In fact, the data collection has become quite specific. It’s possible to know the average speed of a pitcher during his or her second inning of play while at a home game, while playing on an even numbered day of the month. With wearable technology, the amount of data collected is even greater, with a larger amount of specificity.

Wearable technology measures precise performance factors, health metrics and even tracks a player’s sleep.

Wearable Technology - Pro SportsA recent tech conference held in Toronto, Canada held a panel on wearables and brought up the issue of privacy that is inherent to this increasingly popular trend in pro sports. While it is not unheard of for a team to want to know everything it can about its players in order to ensure the best possible performance while reducing the risk of injury, what is not yet outlined is at what point does it cut into the rights of the player to his or her own privacy.

Among the key factors being discussed in this wearables debate is that the evolution of technology has occurred more quickly than the collective bargaining agreements that decide the way that pro leagues and their players interact. For instance, the NFL now has its players wearing radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips that are located in their shoulder pads. This allows the movements of each player to be tracked and transmitted in real-time. That tech allows broadcasters to share distance traveled during a run and other interesting data while the game is still in play.

However, new wearable technology can also help to track a great deal more and provides a broader amount of information about a player’s health and lifestyle. The question now being asked is: at what point has the tracking gone too far.