MIT Uses Smartphone Sensors to Improve Red Sox Players’ Performances

Researchers at MIT have been wiring up Boston Red Sox players with smartphone sensors in an attempt to understand what kind of physical forces they create when swinging and throwing. The idea: By measuring a player’s movement both when he is playing well and when he’s slumping, the Sox physicians and trainers will able to pinpoint the mechanical difference. If they can do that, they can coach the player to correct the mistake. (Below, Boston’s Fenway Park.)

Fenway Park

The MIT News says that the sensor technology they’re using with the Red Sox was originally developed by an on-campus media lab looking to wire dancers so they could control music with their movements. Similar systems are used in golf and in the production of animation for video games.

But the baseball application is perhaps the most elaborate. Players are fitted with much of the same hardware found in Apple’s latest iPhone: Accelerometers and magnometers, which provide the phone’s auto-rotate and compass features, respectively, are used to measure direction of movement and joint-angle. The players are also fitted with gyroscopes. Still, there are hardware limitations; modern accelerometers can’t measure the high level of G-forces produced by athletes.

MIT is in talks with Boston-area device manufacturers to commercialize the technology.

See here and here for other stories, by Fast Company‘s Chuck Salter, about how the Red Sox find ways to get ahead.