The team scarf in soccer has become a ubiquitous symbol for fandoms, serving as a physical tether to their favorite club. While most fans probably don’t need a scarf to measure emotional attachment to their team, Manchester City — a behemoth in one of the most competitive leagues in the world — has gone ahead and given them a tool that does just that.
Appropriately titled the “Connected Scarf,” a chip is sewed into the fabric and positioned in an area at the back of a wearer’s neck. The chip itself is an EmotiBit bio sensor that is able to measure a number of physiological responses like heart rate, physical movement, skin temperature, and electrodermal activity.
This innovation was the result of a partnership with Cisco, with the ultimate goal being able to chart and understand how fans are impacted emotionally by the game. The product was tested initially through a pilot program involving six City fans, and now a few other Premier League teams will also be provided with the high-tech scarf.
Reject tradition, embrace modernity — When it comes to innovation, or adapting to the modern world, the two sports that come to mind are soccer and basketball. The people running teams in both sports, as well as the commissioners and league executives, know that incorporating technology into their product, or adapting to the changing consumption methods, is crucial to growth.
Manchester City’s Connected Scarf is an interesting concept, but raises a few questions. The cynic in me sees the potential for biometric data collection; do we really want a soccer club to have access to our health data?
On the other hand, having real-time quantifiable data could make for some interesting stats. In either case, smart scarves are here whether you asked for them or not.