City Football Group’s smart scarf propels the fandom into the future with a matchday pulse measurement accessory


Just when you thought the football scarf had reached its final evolutionary stage with the high-resolution 22-colour imagery made possible by the introduction of the 12-gauge automatic knitting machine, Manchester City went and pushed the humble game day accessory straight into the digital age.

Indeed, City is working on the development of the world’s first “intelligent scarf” which will, among other advanced functions, monitor the wearer’s physiological reactions during matches. The project is a collaboration between the reigning Premier League champions and Cisco, the massive California-based global tech conglomerate. Cisco also happens to be the current official technology partner of the City Football Group.

“The idea for this project came from looking at the level of performance data from elite players. So we thought, why wouldn’t we do the equivalent for the fans powering the sport?” said Chintan Patel, Cisco’s chief technology officer for the UK and Ireland.

To the untrained eye, the “Connected Scarf” appears to be an ordinary football scarf. However, the striped woven garment is embedded with a biosensor that monitors fans’ vital signs during any given playthrough.

These different data points will tell us how different fans feel at different times, from anger and relief to joy and disappointment. “Someone scoring a goal may be the highlight for a fan, but for another person it may be the save of the goalkeeper or the clash between two players. So there is a lot of things that can potentially come out of it,” Patel said of the nuances in a macro-level approach to this data.

“The headscarf helps us to study the passion of the fans and ultimately what the fans can take away from it in terms of behavior? We are really looking forward to seeing what those defining moments will be and showing the fans their connection to the club.”

Every perfect through ball from Kevin De Bruyne and every ruthless finish from Erling Haaland – it will all be recorded in biometric form and reduced to digital peaks and industry-leading sweat telemetry.

According to Reuters, the smart scarf is still in the pilot stage of development and is unlikely to be commercially available to Man City fans until next season (2023-24) at the earliest. Prior to this, the team intends to distribute a small number among select fans of Man City and the New York City FC MLS franchise, who are also part of the City Football Group, to undergo a series of test events. live.

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

Everything the club intends to do with all bio information after the game is unknown, although the data is anonymized without looking at specific individuals, according to Cisco.

As to whether the smart scarf itself would be able to withstand a full 30 degree wash cycle after being regularly infused with sweat from the wearer’s neck for several home games in a row, the scarf can be washed but the micro board and interior weights (which ensure the sensor conducts the skin effectively) would be removed and reapplied after the wrap has been cleaned and dried.

Two simple but entirely legitimate questions in their own right – which we might suspect will require further answers when the scarf is made public.

“Over the next two years, we’ll see tens of billions more things connected to the internet, and our question is, why not the headscarf?” says Patel.