Cisco’s connected scarf tracks the emotions of Manchester City fans

The project supported by Octagon and Unit9 shows how technology can help football clubs better understand their fans

Georgie Moreton

Assistant Editor, BITE

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Football fans have been donning the scarves of their teams for as long as we can remember. Now a brand new Manchester City scarf launched by Cisco holds more than just team spirit, it can track a fan's emotional journey.  

‘The Connected Scarf’ is a brand new project launched by Cisco with the help of Octagon in support of the brand's partnership with Manchester City FC and City Football Group. Cisco's brand new scarf is a piece of wearable technology that helps monitor a fan’s emotional journey throughout a football match to provide insight into the interconnection between the club and its supporters.

“In our work with Manchester City over the past few years, we’ve continuously looked for ways to connect fans to the sport they love, on another level,” explained Ashley Marusak, Global Sports Marketing Manager for Cisco. “The Connected Scarf is such an exciting project for us to pilot together, as we seek to better understand and measure the ups and downs of football fandom and how the game impacts supporters not only emotionally, but physically as well.”  

Conceptualised and brought to life over a period of four months, the scarf has been fitted with an open-source device of biometric sensors that are integrated into the fabric, anonymously capturing bio-signals coming from a series of skin conductance sensors. This means that the scarf is able to track and record fans' emotional, physiological, and movement data throughout the course of a match. The sensors are also able to capture four separate data streams:

Firstly the sensors track heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration, oxygen saturation and hydration. Secondly they track the wearer’s sympathetic nervous system responses that are driven by cognitive and emotional arousal. Thirdly they are triggered by movements, activity, gesture, rotation, and cardinal direction. Finally, the sensors also monitor temperature, which can be used to assess health as well as emotional reactions

When worn by a fan watching their favourite team the scarf is able to provide a remarkably accurate picture of the fan's emotions during the game, capturing nuances including both positive and negative reactions to goals, tackles, and refereeing decisions. 

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To explain the technology behind the scarf Cisco has also launched a two-minute launch film featuring Manchester City men’s stars Jack Grealish and Aymeric Laporte. The film documents the development of “The Connected Scarf” and demonstrates the technology on fans during the team’s victory over Newcastle in the Premier League title run. 

“Being a fan of any club is an emotional rollercoaster. Thanks to the Connected Scarf we’re now able to understand the physiological emotions fans go through during a game,” added Ryan Shaw, Creative Director at Octagon UK. “Creating this technology from scratch has been an incredible journey, there’s so much this scarf can teach us about fans and club culture.”

Unit9, a global production and technology partner, also helped spearhead the initiative. The collaborative project exemplifies the way technology can give insight into emotion and will no doubt see Cisco help Man City better understand their fans.

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