Renovated, customized sleeproom at Fenway Park, Boston.
(Editor's note: This story previously appeared in SportTechie.com)
The MLB season is off and running as the Atlanta Braves, in particular, open technology-infused SunTrust Park. SportTechie recently broke down the most important storylines to follow for the 2017 MLB season and with that, we also wanted to highlight some of the baseball technology companies to watch during the year.
From wearables and virtual reality training to digital media, there are a number of companies making headlines at the intersection of sports and technology.
1) The Boston Red Sox recently partnered with Bedgear for the company to become the team’s Official Performance Bedding Partner, even helping equip the clubhouse with a sleep room designed to improve performance and recovery. Each player was fitted for a customized pillow for optimal sleeping. While Bedgear only has one official MLB partner, it has also worked with the New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Detroit Tigers, among other organizations. The question remains, will the dedicated sleep room translate to more Ws in the win column?
2) WHOOP, which is a wearable and performance technology company, recently conducted the largest performance study with a U.S. professional sports league in Major League Baseball. It then came as no surprise when the league approved players to wear the WHOOP Strap during regular season games this year. As wearables continue to make appearances, how will they improve an individual’s performance, if at all, and could they potentially become a distraction as well?
3) Major League Baseball Advanced Media is upping the ante with its Statcast system as it integrates more advanced metrics into MLB Network and game-day broadcasts, further helping fans better understand what is taking place on the field via a numbers and percentages breakdown.
4) Sports data and wearable company Catapult Sports just announced its first baseball analytics product, which will help decrease players’ risk of injury. One of the industry leaders in the category, Catapult has worked with hundreds of companies across football, basketball and rugby, among others. Expect them to make some headwind in MLB soon as well.
5) 15 Seconds of Fame, a social sharing platform, inked a multiyear partnership with Major League Baseball Advanced Media where it will help deliver video footage and highlights directly to fans. The new MLBAM relationship for the New York-based technology company adds to existing partnerships it has with other professional sports teams and collegiate programs
6) A baseball pitch-training solution developed by Rapsodo entered the marketplace earlier this season. Rapsodo Baseball, as it’s formally called, combines radar and camera technology to capture data in real-time so coaches can review a pitcher’s mechanics and offer immediate feedback.
7) How Twitter’s season-long live streaming partnership with Major League Baseball Advanced Media performs from a viewership standpoint is something to keep a close eye on. Granted, the deal is different from the social platform’s prior relationship with the NFL, but what type of audience will the games attract?
8) Dubbed the “next generation of Moneyball,” TrinityVR is hoping its DiamondFX platform can transform how pitchers and batters train, except without the added physical stress. For a five-figure investment, TrintyVR outfits an MLB batting cage with the system, giving players hundreds of extra repetitions which equals thousands of new data points for them to analyze. Virtual reality is a tool that is already being leveraged in the U.S., especially football. Perhaps baseball could be the next frontier for alternative VR training.
9) Wearable technology company Motus Global, which has been approved for in-game use during MLB games, partnered with the Baseball Factory this year. The latter company focuses on player development at the high school level and with the new relationship, will utilize the motus THROW device for injury prevention and performance analysis.