Technology taking strides in Major League Baseball

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By Sarah Noel, @Snoel_16 (Old Dominion University)

Motus is a major player in the baseball wearable technology industry. Image via Motus Global and the Associated Press.

Motus is a major player in the baseball wearable technology industry. Image via Motus Global and the Associated Press.

Major League Baseball is taking strides to implement new wearable technology for their players. This technology will not only help players and coaches get statistical information on how their players are pitching and/or throwing, but it will also help with maintaining the prevention of injuries. Other professional organizations, such as the NBA, NFL, and NHL, have already started capturing data from their players. However, one main concern with this is the privacy of the players.

Although player privacy is a major concern, the MLB has started implementing this wearable technology but with limitations on what can be distributed from the captured information.

Motus Global and Zephyr Technology are two companies that are returning for their second season with MLB for on-field use during practices and games.

Some other companies that have also been approved for on-field use during games are Catapult and Whoop.

With the leading concern of player privacy, Major League Baseball has set forth basic rules for the use of this new technology. Access to the results of this technology must be equally accessible to both the individual player and their team. Teams will not be allowed to receive information from players that are not on their team. Also, this access is not allowed to be retrieved during the game, only before or after. Lastly, the technology companies do not have any rights to the players’ data and the players’ participation is completely voluntary.

Whoop, one of the new technology organizations, is a system that can produce over 150 megabytes of physiological data per day. Physiological data is a delicate area and isn’t covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). However, this area does relate closely with federal guidelines of doctors releasing patient information without their consent.

According to Eric Fisher of SBJ, due to this rising concern, many of the participating technology companies are implementing “data safeguards” that will allow players and their teams to alter the way the information is introduced and shared.

When speaking with Fisher, Will Ahmed, founder and chief executive of Boston-based Whoop said, “We actually have 27 layers of privacy settings between sharing everything and sharing nothing. It can’t just be a binary thing because privacy isn’t binary. But ultimately, what we’re looking to do is help athletes have longer, healthier and more productive career." 

Along with these technology companies, MLB Advanced Media is also going to expand their Statcast system this season. MLBAM has been working diligently on improving this system by working on development work over the past three years and tracking over 300,000 baseballs in play over the past two seasons. Statcast system is a radar-based system that will now be able to analyze hitting and catching probabilities. President of Catapult North America, Brian Kopp said, “You need to have a baseline in place to be able to know if you’re deviating off of that, so that’s the first step we’re looking to establish.”

Although all of these devices and companies may specialize in different areas the main goal for the use of these different wearable technologies is to be able to collect and properly measure the biometric range of swinging and throwing, to help improve athletic performance, and help with injury prevention.

Bio: Sarah Noel is currently a full-time student at Old Dominion University as well as a full-time Office Manager. Sarah's favorite sport is Baseball and she currently acts as a team manager for a baseball team in the Tidewater Adult Baseball League. For fun, Sarah enjoys training for running a Spartan Race. After college, she hopes to own and/or manage her own gym/athletic facility. You can view here LinkedIn here.

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