"The iPod, writes Jayson Stark, is baseball's hottest innovation." Players are studying video of themselves, the pitches thrown to to them in a game, the mechanics of their swing or throw, all on the iPod. Dozens of players are using the Apple device to tune their game.
Interesting, but the real message is that iPods and other video devices are viable training tools. Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies, ESPN reports, has loaded video of every hit he has made in the last eight years onto an iPod. (That's pitcher Jason Jennings with his iPod on the right.)
But what Helton hasn't got is the ability to compare and contrast those hits with at-bats when he struck out swinging. The ESPN piece waxes rhapsodical about the march of progress, but misses the key piece. It is not just about display capabilities, but the metadata that can be attached to the video to make it searchable and useful in a specific context.
For instance, Helton may recognize that he changed something in his stance over the years and want to view a series of at-bats by date. Or the pitcher's delivery may have changed and, hoping to learn how to spot weaknesses in the new delivery, Helton would want to search for videos of at-bats against that pitcher.
Our devices are only beginning to gain intelligence, even as display capability and storage capacity race ahead. How, though, would you format a search on the iPod? Scroll and select for each variable would actually be quite simple. The logic to support that kind of search is currently missing. But with the iPhone's OS X kernel, the foundation for sophisticated access to video is already there—as it is in Windows Mobile and other portable devices that sport an operating system.
So, it is really the metadata we're waiting for. Major League Baseball has that metadata—video managers for each team assemble deeply indexed video for every game and player—and could serve as a model for the enterprise seeking to add more training intelligence across the organization.