Sports are big business, and for the USA, they don’t get much bigger than Major League Baseball. Ok, yes, there’s the NHL, that’s a bit bigger. But there’s not much else. The thing is, though, such popularity means there’s a lot of money involved. And with the sort of money involved with MLB, teams have to be very careful who they recruit.
Historically, they use talent scouts that go and watch people play and use their experience to try and figure out who might be pretty good. It’s not an exact science and they don’t always get it right, but that’s the way it’s been. Now, thanks to technological advancements, it seems they’ve started to shift to using a couple of iPhones along with some artificial intelligence for a more analytical approach.
The League has partnered with Uplift Labs, which has developed AI-powered motion-tracking software, to help them find new players in the amateur leagues. This software watches and analyses 3D biometrics of people doing sports to see they perform using iPhones or iPads. It uses the iPhone’s cameras to watch the subject and then generates a full 3D motion-tracked recreation of their movements.
From here, you’re able to see their stance, technique and other traits you might want to keep an eye out for. It lets scouts see a player’s movements while they’re actually there watching them at the game. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of their job, letting them more easily target and recruit the better players. At least, that’s the theory.
Biometric Data Analytics
Of course, this biometric data can be obtained in other ways. Motion capture sensor kits can also be used to monitor the player’s movements and recreate them in the computer. The problem with such kits, however, is that their existence often affects player performance. You’re also only able to really use them in controlled lab conditions. Uplift Labs’ software allows them to do it in a real-world setting during actual gameplay.
That will save a lot of time and money. Its continued use on signed players during the season also means that they can more easily spot potential injuries or technique issues that can be addressed and resolved.
Not all good for players
On the flip side of this, though, it does have some potential downsides for the players. As the Wall Street Journal reports…
If a player is already projected to go near the top of the draft, MRI data or movement data may be used by a team to find potential red flags in the player’s athletic profile, which could be used to negotiate a smaller bonus for the player as he enters professional baseball.
This is baseball’s second major biometrics development since initially setting up the labs with the motion tracking kit. The new camera-based system will help them to save a lot of money and time, and let scouts analyse the players in more realistic environments. It will be very interesting to see how quickly it’s adopted across the game in the coming years as well as how successful it is at increasing the reliability of picks and overall quality of players and teams.
[via Wall Street Journal]