A wearable technology that has a lot of potential benefits for personal health and OH&S. Currently it is up to the user to download the data via USB... it won't take long for users to request a wireless service that stores data somewhere other than their desktop for backup and remote access and general convenience. It also won't take long for these types of devices to have ID management systems and inbuilt GPS chipsets for starters and much more later on. As soon as these devices are taken from the personal health domain to professional sports domain these additional parameters become very important. See for example the GPS device worn on the wrist by Australian cricketer Nathan Bracken in 2006 which also had an accelerometer on-board.

GPS devices are regularly fitted to players -- swing bowler Nathan Bracken agreed to wear one on his wrist during a ODI final in Brisbane last season -- as Australia seeks any advantage it can gain over England.

"The GPS satellite tracking devices give you an idea of what distance the players cover and at what speeds. For instance, it showed that Bracken covered 15 kilometres out in the field in Brisbane," Cordy said.

"One of the things that came out of the technology was that there was a significant difference in training heart-rates versus playing heart-rates.

"It has highlighted the need at training to work harder because of the intensity of matches.

"If you are just training and your heart-rate is 10 or 15 per cent less than what is required in a game, the players are never going to be fit enough. That's been quite a massive impact."

In 2010, some of the Australian Fast Bowlers in The Ashes Cricket Series (England v Australia) are using specialised wearable devices (strapped between the shoulder blades in their back- a type of "vest") to obtain statistics about their performance level. In the second test the Channel 9 commentary team made mention that some fieldsmen refused to adopt the technology for personal reasons. This technology is also being used during training sessions but some sports commentators have raised concern over the implications of this type of technology on the game at large. Mainly these issues center around off field "validation", although the technology being used is GPS-enabled. Ian Healy, the Australian wicket keeper and batsman legend, commented during the third day of the Boxing Day test match about the possibility for players to swap such devices between themselves without being caught out.

Coach Tim Nielsen has asked that the majority of the data from the GPS vests — which are now regularly fitted to Australian players during matches — be kept secret to prevent rival nations gaining crucial intelligence, the Herald Sun reported today. But it has been revealed that Aussie cricketers have produced some remarkable workload data, running up to 29km a day during matches. Several of them will wear the devices during tomorrow’s Twenty20 international against New Zealand in Perth.

Analysis from the GPS devices is helping to determine how player workload should be managed and which players need to be rested to prevent burnout.

This kind of use of technology also raises important questions about how people might perform under particular types of surveillance. For instance, could such technology influence how a cricketer might run between wickets (to the detriment of a run out situation, all because he wants to get down to the other end at a better average speed than his team mates), or whether an outfielder might continue to jog on the spot in between balls to keep their heart rate up etc.

This technology does not have implications only for cricketers, but marathon runners (who have been wearing chips in their shoes for over a decade and other sensors), and Olympians of diverse sports. The underlying question is do we perform differently when we are being watched, and is this always a positive thing?

AuthorKatina Michael