Would you wear a smart scarf?
Manchester City seem to think so. They recently ran a pilot program in which a handful of lifelong fans wore club scarves with “EmotiBit” sensor systems from Cisco Systems stitched into them. One sensor monitored body temperature, another blood flow, and accelerometer data monitored movement. Notably, there was also an EDA sensor with “lie detector technology” — which sounds like it could be more useful on the field: Strap one on a world-class embellisher Luquinhas of the New Jersey Red Bulls and watch his production slow to a trickle.
Called the Connected Scarf, it was created by Cisco Systems — City helped facilitate content creation through access to fans who opted into the activity. According to a statement issued by City, this “innovative upgrade” to the club scarf will allow them to “measure those ups and downs and get a better understanding of the emotion at the heart of the world’s beautiful game.” The Connected Scarf measured 120 moments in a 90-minute game (presumably plus stoppage time), which means the sensors checked in every 45 seconds on average.
Is this the logical next step after smartwatches and other monitoring devices we willing use in everyday life? City love data, and it was just a matter of when before the club turned their technological acumen to learn more about the habits of their supporters: Just imagine your gameday heatmap, with those deep red blobs at your seat, waiting in line for the bathroom, waiting in line for the very decent burnt end Dirty Fries at Mighty Quinn’s.
Or is this something more dystopian, the latest wall to be breached as CFG will be able to track us and collect more data in order to better monetize our feelings for the teams we support?
Soon, a few NYCFC fans will face these questions themselves. According to Reuters, “a select number [of scarves] will be distributed to supporters of City and also those of their sister club New York City FC in the United States.”
No timeline has been made public, and the pilot program in New York City will be limited — according to the club, there are no plans to sell the scarves to the public. Still, it raises the question: Would you put on a smart scarf?
Would you wear the Connected Scarf, and let NYCFC and CFG track your biometrics?
This poll is closed
Yes: All-in on the latest tech
Maybe: Need to know more
No: Allow me to show you where you can put your lie detector technology
Many unanswered questions about the Connected Scarf remain. As the Verge put it: “Will it have to be charged? How much will it cost? (Probably, and likely more than is sensible.) Can it survive the wash, or will you have to deal with an incredibly stinky scarf after a few games? But also, how will Manchester City protect users’ privacy, considering the fact the scarves will collect biometric data? We likely won’t know those details until the scarf actually becomes available to the public — if it ever truly does.”
Just as important: How will it look? The Connected Scarf we see in the images released by City is pretty vanilla. NYCFC will have to do a better job than that if the fans here are to wear them on gameday.