November 16th, 2006

Read through this section to learn more about TeamAwear, including how it was designed, made, and evaluated. Use the contents links below to skip to the different sections.

Future directions


Team sports clothing currently serves two purposes: for one they provide protection for the body, but they also act as a means of communication via graphics and colour which have become an identification system for athletes. This research proposes to extend the use of team sports clothing (i.e. jersey) as a communication medium, by displaying more meaningful information than just an athlete’s identity, such as relevant statistics or time restrictions. In this way, the notion of the jersey is transformed into a wearable visualization that allows athletes to wear their performance on their sleeve, literally.


TeamAwear was inspired in particular by two main areas. Firstly, the on-screen graphics which are shown during television and internet sports broadcasts. These graphics encapsulate huge amounts of information about a sports game in simple graphics, allowing spectators to retrieve an overview of the entire games events at once glance.

Similarly, sports-related video games alow game information graphics and icons representing player statistics to be 'tied' to virtual players, so you can see your performance constantly.

This research derives familiar representations from both on-screen sports and video game graphics to create the next generation of team sports jersey.


TeamAwear followed a user-centred design process to identify the needs and requirements of a basketball game.

The first part of the design process involved 8 weeks of field work, where all basketball players were observed and studied closely during training and competition games. This provided valuable information about how TeamAwear could be used and integrated into basketball game-play.

A set of participative design studies were then organised so that the end-users of TeamAwear (i.e. athletes, coaches, referees, and spectators) could assist in the design so that it would more suitably meet their needs.

A number of volunteers were recruited for a total of 3 studies during a 9 week period. During each progressive study, a number of tasks were completed, including:

> Obtaining feedback
> Determing what information is most useful to know
> Selecting suitable display materials
> Suitable methods for encoding information in displays
> Requirements (i.e. non-obtrusive, safety)
> User needs
> Design sketches
> Physical layout
> Refinement

The final result of the user-centred design process was a prototype design for the TeamAwear system which fully met the requirements and needs of the basketball environment and its stakeholders (see diagram below).

teamawear layout

As an individual player accumulates fouls, the shoulder based displays will illuminate symetrically from the inside out, so that when players have a high amount of fouls (e.g. four) this information becomes more apparent. A players individual points are reflected by increasing panel displays positioned symetrically on the side of the jersey. As a player scores more points, the displays illuminate in an upward fashion, with the bottom display representing 10 points, the middle 20 points, and the top 30 points (this is reminiscent of a familiar bar graph). On the chest of the player are two displays representing the time restrictions during game-play. The right-side display represents the game-time and is shown when 1 minute of play remains, while the display on the left-side represents the shot-time and is shown 10 seconds before a player has to take a shot or be penalised. Finally, on the rear of the jersey is a simple on/off display to represent the winning team.


TeamAwear has been designed not only for the dynamic visual-communication of game-related information sources during game-play, but also to meet the requirements of a high-risk team sports context. The following design features are included:

> Safe for use
> Wireless
> Washable
> Unisex
> Lightweight

The TeamAwear system consists of three parts:

1. the main component is a wearable display, which consists of a generic basketball jersey which has been electronically enhanced. Conductive thread is sewn within the jersey fabric to create an electric circuit. Flexible electroluminescent display panels and wire are then embedded within the jersey, which illuminate brightly during use. The displays are contained within removable transparent pockets allowing the displays to be removed when the jersey needs to be washed. All electricity conducting parts are insulated, and an additional inner-lining adds further protection to the wearer during game-play. On the inside of the jersey, is a small plug which allows the jersey to be connected to a wearable computer.

2. a small wearable computer (~ 200 grams) is worn underneath the jersey (fitted to an adjustable harness - see next) and is connected to the jersey via a port which the jersey plugs into. The wearable computer is essentially a small non-breakable plastic box, which includes: a small microprocessor, a custom circuit-board, electronic inverters, a wireless bluetooth module, and a 9v battery to supply power. A safety switch is also included allowing the device to be turned on/off at any time by the wearer.

3. an adjustable unisex harness is fitted to the wearers body, and carries the wearable computer on the chest (for males) or waist (for females). The harness allows the wearable computer to be comfortably worn during game-play, and does not restrict the players movements.

Finally, a wireless computer terminal is required to send information wirelessly which causes the jerseys to update in real-time (see diagram below).


TeamAwear was evaluated during a series of socially competitive basketball games involving semi-professional athletes, coach, referee, and spectators.

The results of the evaluation revealed TeamAwear to be especially successful for increasing stakeholders awareness of game-related information sources (i.e. fouls, score, points, time limits). Pairs of game scenarios were carried out, once with the TeamAwear jerseys and once without the jersey.

Spectators, especially those who were inexperienced, found the system particularly useful and were able to enjoy and understand the game better. TeamAwear also influenced the decisions of athletes, alerting them when the game was about to end, and when to take a shot. Referees and coaches agreed they had to consult the bench much less during game-play, as they could 'see' the information in real-time.

Future Directions

Although TeamAwear has been tailor-made for basketball specifically, by augmenting the design process to include the requirements and needs of different stakeholders, the system can be implemented within virtually any team sport, such as: volleyball, netball, football, hockey, handball, and many more.

Additionally, TeamAwear would be suitable as a training aid to help athletes practice drills and execute routine instructions from the coach by visually indicating strategic ‘plays’. Disabled or impaired athletes that may not meet the demanding physical requirements of some sports, can receive information that was previously been inaccessible, allowing them to enhance their game-play beyond the permitted scope. Outside of the team sports context, TeamAwear could find use during individual exercise or endurance training, relaying ones performance data for motivating both the wearer and surrounding viewers. Even further outside of the sports domain, a similar system could be used to convey strategic information or increase situational awareness for emergency services during crisis operations.


A Wearable Display for Team Sports - contact me