Buzzing Shirt Takes The Fan Experience To Some Kind Of Next Level

For those of us who crave even more physical intensity in our fandom

Getty Images
Jun 21, 2016 at 12:05 PM ET

The appeal of watching sports in public spaces is the shared experience, the cheers and frustrations along the way that build community. Exhilaration deepens when, for instance, Kyrie Irving hits the go-ahead three-pointer that will lead to Cleveland’s first championship in 52 years—why else was there a sellout crowd at the Cavaliers’ arena when the game was being played three time zones away?

Now, imagine being a fan at that moment when Irving’s off-balance three drains the net, and you’ve decided to “enhance the human experience” with a Wearable Experiments fan shirt that uses haptic technology to harness real-time game data that makes your shirt vibrate in response to game results. At the height of your team’s moment of victory or in the stunning sting of their defeat, the buzzing shirt allows your whole body to feel like Crying Jordan…or Crying Lebron.

For now, such a jersey is limited to international football (i.e. soccer), where the Australia-based Wearable Experiments has developed the Football Fan Shirt that takes fandom from extremely intense to extremely—perhaps unbearably—intense. The shirt has tiny vibrators stitched into the shirt that are triggered through the Bluetooth-compatible companion app on your smart phone, on which you pick your favorite team and wait for physical reminders of exactly how you’re feeling when your team does something great or awful.

Wearable Experiments claims the Football Fan Shirt “creates a heightened sense of excitement blurring the lines between player and spectator.”

Fans don’t seem to feel the same way. Early reviews of the product have been politely terrible. To start, CrazyEngineers.com calls it “ridiculous.” Sample the rest of the feedback:

“The more pressing issue is figuring out how to tell your mates why you’re literally buzzing when England predictably get knocked out on penalties,” wrote Digital Spy.

“It’s reasonable to say that this is more of a special occasion wearable than something you’d want to wear around town—you probably don’t want to explain why you’re vibrating when you’re getting a drink with friends,” Engadget said.

“It might be a stretch to think these same fans would need an app to send vibrations to their shirt in order to experience the gamut of emotions that occur over the course of a game,” SportTechie noted.

So often a bar is packed with fans of the same team, yet there’s a silent intruder invited by a friend who’s secretly rooting for the opponent—if he is wearing the Football Fan Shirt, there will be no hiding his allegiance when his whole body starts convulsing like his table is ready at T.G.I. Friday’s. So that’s one positive, perhaps. But make sure you’re watching the sporting event live and don’t click pause on the DVR for an ill-timed restroom break: If a major game event happens while you’re not watching, you might have an unpleasant and unexpected buzz while sitting in the loo.