AirPod is crucial component of robot umpire

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Home plate umpire Brian deBrauwere, was the first ump to wear an AirPod during a game.
Photo: AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Robot umpires have finally arrived in baseball’s minor leagues and Apple’s technology is making it all possible.

The Atlantic League, an independent league mostly based on the East Coast, recently became the first professional baseball league to use a computer to call balls and strikes. A human umpire still stands behind home plate, but the gig just got a lot easier thanks to AirPods connected to an iPhone that tells him the right call.

During the testing phase of the robot umpire system, the humans wore a radio receiver belt that connected them to the press box. That’s been swapped out in favor of Apple’s AirPods connected to an iPhone in their back pocket, which then is connected to the computer system in the press box via WiFi.

Here’s a video of the first pitch tested at the Atlantic League All-Star game on Wednesday:

There’s a bit of a delay between when the pitch hits the catcher’s mitt and when the call comes in. Players and fans have had pretty positive reviews of the new system though. Even the umpires seem to be fans as it takes some of the stress off them. Umpires still make calls on the field for other plays and they can override the call made by the computer on pitches.

Robot umpires will be implemented across the Atlantic League following the All-Star game. Because it’s a partner with the MLB, if the experiment goes well we could see it arrive in the big leagues soon.