NBA will form committee exploring use of wearables during games

By Heather Mack

While NBA players aren’t currently allowed to wear biometric devices during games, a new committee is in the works to reassess the value of and role wearables may eventually play in the sport.

Athletes regularly use digital health tools like wearables to track heart rate and exertion during workouts, and the NBA has increased its focus on the health of its players. As ESPN reported, more and more of NBA’s most valuable players are being rested for scheduled games, and data from wearables could also help coaches track exertion levels during the game and manage players more efficiently.

The new committee – which will be made up of league officials and players’ union representatives – will decide if any devices will eventually be allowed during games, what data they will track, and how that data will be used. And, of course, whether there is a possibility of making money off that data.

Teams are already using some devices during workouts or for sleep, but almost all official sports associations ban the use during games. But top sports officials are becoming increasingly intrigued by the potentials of player-generated health data. Major League Baseball allows a wearable called motus during games, and the association recently began a formal process to review wearables. Earlier this month, digital fitness company Whoop announced results of a performance study involving 230 minor league players from nine MBL organizations. The study used Whoop’s wristworn wearable Strap to measure heart rate, heart rate variability, ambient temperature, movement and skin response to monitor the relationship between physiological status and performance.

“I’m impressed with Major League Baseball’s commitment to innovation and their data-driven approach to understanding the rigors of the professional season,” Whoop Founder and CEO Will Ahmed said in a statement. “The initial findings of this study confirm the need for continuous physiological monitoring in professional sports, including in-game monitoring to improve player health and safety.”

All kinds of atheletes are looking into the potential for wearables and other technology to improve their game -- earlier this year we rounded up wearables users at the 2016 Olympics.