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MLB approves in-game use of biometric monitoring devices

Major League Baseball (MLB) has approved the use of a continuous biometric monitor that can be worn by players during games, in what is believed to be a first in US major league sport.

ESPN.com said the recent MLB winter meetings saw the company behind the product, Whoop, present its findings in what was said to be the most comprehensive biometric data study on athletes ever conducted by a professional sports league. A direct correlation was made between recovery and injury and hitting and pitching performance.

The Whoop device is designed to be worn throughout the day and night. It measures sleep, recovery and strain. ESPN said MLB teams cannot force players to wear the device, with the decision left up to the athletes.

MLB’s agreement is said to provide that the vendor has no rights to the data itself and that the player and the team can use it to analyse or identify trends. Commercial or public use of the player data, such as on television broadcasts, will require consent of both the player and the team.

Whoop founder and chief executive, Will Ahmed, told ESPN that his product has 27 different privacy settings that allow a player or a team to share various pieces of information, while keeping other data private. Use of biometric monitoring devices has raised privacy concerns in the sports sector.

“This is Moneyball 2.0,” Ahmed added.