MLB gives the thumbs up to using wearables during games

Fitbits and Jawbones don't make the cut...
MLB approves using wearables during games

Wearable tech will make it onto Major League Baseball fields during games for the very first time after the sport's playing rules committee approved the use of select devices.

So we're not talking Fitbit or Jawbone fitness trackers here. The Motus baseball sleeve and Zephyr Bionharness heart and breathing monitor are the first wearables to be given the green light.

Essential reading: Wearable tech in the NFL

The committee has also approved the use of two batting swing sensors but the Blast Motion and Diamond Kinetics setups can only be used on-field for warm-ups, batting practice and training sessions.

The decision to embrace baseball-centric wearables is in the hope that it can help prevent injuries and closely monitor a player's physical state. The Motus sleeve, which was given provisional approval last year, has already been tested by MLB teams. It uses a sensor packed module that aims to stop players throwing their arm out. It can also help pitchers assess their performance.

With the Zephyr monitor, which is usually built into a shirt, coaches can record physiological data such as heart rate, breathing rate, posture and activity level. It can also monitor aspects like heart rate variability which is connected to stress and could influence decisions on a player's recovery routine after a game.

If you're wondering whether having that data is going to give teams an unfair advantage, it can only be downloaded and collated after the game. Data will only be used internally as well and can only be shared with the player. It obviously wouldn't be a good thing if data got into the wrong hands.

While the MLB will be the first sport to embrace wearable tech during a game, US sports in general have been quick to adopt and reap the benefits of wearables. The NFL has been looking at ways wearables can help tackle the big concussion problem, while in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors have been using Catapult Sports devices to monitor performance in training to aid recovery between games.

No doubt there will be a few of the baseball old guard against the changes, but if it can keep the best players out on the field for more games playing at their full potential, surely it can only be a good thing?

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