Manchester City made a smart football scarf to track those big match feels

The Connected Scarf will be dished out to some City and New York City FC fans
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Manchester City has decided the football scarf needs a modern makeover so it's created one that's capable of better understanding how supporters feel while watching games live.

The Connected Scarf has been built with one of its technology sponsors Cisco and those smart tracking powers come via a bio sensor made by EmotiBit. That's a startup that popped up on Kickstarter and raised almost $120,000 for its open source sensor that's capable of capturing emotional, physiological and movement data.

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That EmotiBit sensor includes a PPG-style optical heart rate sensor, a medical grade temperature sensor, accelerometer motion sensor and an EDA sensor. That sensor array sits on the neck when the scarf is worn and can then track heart rate, emotional arousal and body temperature to better understand how supporters react to certain moments in a match.

It's not clear how or if this data the scarf can track and analyse will be available to supporters themselves or will be collected by the club. We do know that these type of sensors are typically found in smartwatches and fitness trackers to measure stress and the body's response to stress.

The scarf has been pilot tested with six lifelong City supporters, who donned them while watching a game. While the club won't be handing them out to all fans next season, a select number will end up around the necks of some City supporters as well as supporters at New York City FC who are part of the same City Football Group ownership.

Manchester City is no stranger to the wearable space. Back in 2018, it launched a smart band, which was designed to deliver information like match stats and also packed in an NFC sensor so it could double up as a season ticket.

The idea of tracking reactions to live events via wearables isn't entirely new and we've already found out ourselves just how that heart rate can spike on a smartwatch when things get tense or stressful during a game.

What will be interesting here is whether it could uncover other less obvious moments in the game that conjure up strong emotional reactions. Do all fans absolutely love it when a goalkeeper flaps at a corner or get riled up when they see someone wearing a half-and-half scarf? These are the kind of fascinating findings we really want to hear about from the current Premier League champions and this latest foray into wearables.

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Michael Sawh

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Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.


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