City Football Group’s ‘smart scarf’ takes fandom into future with pulse-measuring matchday accessory

Just when you thought the football scarf had reached its final evolutionary stage with the high-resolution 22-color images made possible by the introduction of the 12-gauge automatic knitting machine, Manchester City launched the humble match-day accessory brought digital age.

In fact, City is working on the development of the world’s first “smart scarf” which, among other cutting-edge features, will be able to track the wearer’s physiological responses during play. The project is a collaboration between the reigning Premier League champions and Cisco, the giant global technology conglomerate based in California. Cisco also happens to be the current Official Technology Partner of City Football Group.

“The idea for this project came from looking at the level of performance data that takes place for elite players. So we thought, why not do the equivalent for the fans who drive the sport?” says Chintan Patel, Cisco’s UK & Ireland chief technology officer.

To the untrained eye, the “Connected Scarf” looks like a normal football scarf. However, the striped woven garment has a biosensor embedded in it that monitors fans’ vital signs during a given playthrough.

These different data points will tell us how different fans are feeling at different moments, from anger and relief to joy and disappointment. “For some fans it might be the highlight when someone scores a goal, but for others it might be the goalkeeper’s save or the clash between two players. So a lot can come out of that,” Patel says of nuances within a macro-level approach to this data.

“The scarf helps us study the passion of the fans, and ultimately what can the fans get out of it in terms of their own behavior? We’re really excited to see what those powerful moments will look like and show the fans their connection with the club.”

Every centimeter-perfect through ball from Kevin De Bruyne and every reckless finish from Erling Haaland – all of this is logged in biometric form and reduced to numerical spikes and industry-leading sweat telemetry.

According to Reuters, the chic scarf is still in the pilot phase of its development and is not expected to be available to Man City fans in stores until next season (2023-24) at the earliest. Until then, the team intends to distribute a small number of select fans from Man City and MLS franchise New York City FC, also part of City Football Group, to undergo a series of live testing events.

The idea of ​​the scarf, at least as far as the accompanying press release is concerned, is to create an even closer unity between a football club and its fans – presumably by collecting and merging their biometric data.

What the club intends to do with all the bio information after the game is unknown, although Cisco says the data will be anonymized without identifying specific individuals.

Whether the fancy scarf would withstand even a full wash at 30 degrees, after being continuously soaked with the wearer’s neck sweat for several home games in a row, the scarf can be washed, but the microboard and inner weights (which ensure that the sensor does not touch the skin effectively conducts) would be removed and reapplied once the scarf is cleaned and dried.

Two simple but perfectly legitimate questions in their own right – both of which we might suspect will need further answers when the scarf is released to the general public.

“In the next few years, we’re going to see tens of billions more things connected to the internet, and our question is, why not the scarf?” says Patel. City Football Group’s ‘smart scarf’ takes fandom into future with pulse-measuring matchday accessory

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