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Summer of Big Data and Location Tracking at Baseball Parks

Wednesday, August 6th 2014
By Joe Francica

Sabermetrics isn't he only type of statistical analysis being used in baseball these days. Location tracking is turning into the next "big data," number crunching, analytical tool used at Major League ballparks. This year, nearly all ballparks are being outfitted with iBeacons, Apple's Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transmitters that can support indoor navigation apps and communication with mobile devices using iOS 7. Fans that download the At the Ballpark app can check-in, receive discount offers, get historical information, and navigate to their seats (Watch the video below for examples).

Now, technology that tracks a pitched or batted ball's flight has been installed at two ballparks, Minnesota and Milwaukee. According to the Wall Street Journal, steroscopic cameras and radar are used to track a ball's route 20,000 times per second. The technology can be both predictive, such as to determine whether a ball will actually be hit out of the park, and analytical, to assess a player's performance (see second video below). The technology is being developed by Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), a unit of MLB. Technology similar to what MLB is doing was discussed in a recent podcast about technology SAP was deploying for Germany's national soccer team.

What else might this technology be used for? I'm thinking about traffic and advanced driver assistance, whereby accidents might be avoided if vehicle speed and direction were tracked, especially where feasible such as at intersections. Information could be sent to the cars "connected" devices and take corrective actions accordingly. What applications can you think of for this technology?

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