Even NBA jerseys soon will be screens

4 min read
Sean Blanda
  •  Feb 18, 2019
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Every day we’re getting closer to the unison of experiences and digital experiences. We’re graduating from touchscreens and apps to virtual and augmented reality—and digital product design is extending to some unexpected places, like sports jerseys.

This new-fangled design magic came to life last week at the NBA All-Star Weekend, a sort of mid-season party for the second most-popular sports league in the U.S. There, commissioner Adam Silver previewed some technology to come:

Silver demonstrated a wearable jersey concept where the name and number could be controlled from a mobile device— and basketball fans can already see the tie-ins. For example, in 2014, the NBA allowed “nickname” jersey’s in a special Heat/Nets game:

Imagine fans being able to change jersey nicknames based on what’s happening on the court? Or the player having more control over their personal branding, depending on what’s happening in the game? Or, maybe it’s just another slot for advertising.

“Silver’s demo was yet another sign that previously “analog” industries are building a future centered around digital experiences.”

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Silver’s demo was yet another sign that previously “analog” industries are building a future centered around digital experiences. The NBA itself has been at the vanguard here:

  • The NBA does not actively police YouTube for copyright infringement to encourage the sharing of fun in-game moments.
  • The NBA has its own e-sports league.
  • Every NBA stadium has “SportVU” cameras that track player movement for advanced analytic nerds.
  • The NBA has an in-game live app that you can play along to the broadcast.

The in-game version of this jersey is likely far off (the demo appeared to use a simple projector on a blank jersey). But even if the jersey stays on the shelf, the message was clear: companies everywhere will be looking to push the boundaries of the screen.

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