As the NBA continues upon an ambitious and risky course through the 2020-21 season, it is bringing back some of the technology that made the Bubble successful, according to a report by Baxter Holmes of ESPN.
The Kinexon SafeZone wristband was one of the key elements used to keep the Bubble locked down this summer, as everyone inside wore the wristband, and in the case of a positive case (which fortunately never happened), the technology would allow the league to determine close contacts of the infected person. The wristband also would beep when people came within six feet of one another, though that function will be disabled now, Holmes reported.
Those in Tier 1 and Tier 2 in the league’s structure (this includes players, coaches, front office personnel, trainers and team staff such as communications staffers) will wear the band starting Jan. 7 at all team-sanctioned functions, including on the team bus, during travel, and during practices. They will not wear the bands during games.
Holmes also notes that GPS location will not be recorded, which means players will not be monitored moment to moment, but rather the technology will be used to measure “the distance and duration of in-person interactions” per a memo obtained by Holmes.
Other leagues such as the NFL have put these sensors to work already in 2020 and pro football has mostly had success when it comes to contact tracing during its season. Now, the NBA will try their hand as they attempt to build out a program that leads to as few infections as possible over the course of the season.