wearable technology sports Archive

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.

Wearable technology is hot in pro sports

These mobile devices are taking off among all of the major sports leagues.

One of the hottest topics at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference that included the attendance of the MLB, the NHL, the NBA, the NFL, and soccer, was wearable technology wand the way that this data will be able to be sued in each respective sport in order to build the capability for understanding the peak performance of athletes while tracking both their health and their safety.

If these fitness tracker devices weren’t considered a major industry before, they certainly are now!

A number of different types of wearable technology devices and uses were discussed when it came to using tech on the actual uniforms of the players. For instance, it is now possible to wear a tiny device of some form in or on a player’s uniform in order to be able to measure and track that athlete’s movement, heart rate, and overall explosiveness. Among the devices gaining a considerable amount of attention are those from Zebra Technologies International.

Fitness tracking wearable technology worked hard to gain notice from the teams and leagues at the conference.

In the case of Zebra Technologies, it had its own conference display to help it to be able to promote the services that it is able to provide to the various types of teams. That company is based in Illinois and took its first steps into the business of sports tech in late 2011. Even before the conference, it had already signed on two NFL clients and a number of teams from college football.Wearable Technology - American Football

Their wearable fitness tech comes in the form of a simple sticker that adheres to the players themselves and that will measure the force that is put into each of that athlete’s activities. This helps to be able to create a better definition of the movements of the player, as well as of the strength of the hits that are taken. In essence, it is helpful in tracking the trauma that he or she may experience.

According to the vice president and general manager for location solutions at Zebra, Jill Stelfox, “In college, what’s really fascinating about using wearable technologies on players is there is a lot of emphasis on health and safety.” The wearable technology from the company helps to better understand the force that is experienced by any specific player.