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How does the NBA Smart Jersey Work?

What makes the NBA so successful is their eagerness to adapt to their fans, and constantly introduce new ideas to satisfy both the old and the new generations of fans. One of those ideas was presented right before the 2019 All-Star game when NBA commissioner Adam Silver brought out the new NBA smart jerseys at the annual All-Star Technology Summit.  The summit’s talking point that evening was the importance of implementing technology and what the future of basketball could look like for the fans in 2038. But how does an NBA Smart Jersey Work?

How does an NBA Smart Jersey Work? The jersey allows the owner to change the name and the number on the back of the jersey in a matter of seconds by using a simple app on your phone. The color, style and the general look of it all stays the same, only the name and the number changes.

Adam Silver showcased a NBA Smart Jersey on stage and showed how he could change a jersey from Kemba Walker jersey to a Steph Curry jersey and later a Michael Jordan jersey.

What is the Benefit of an NBA Smart Jersey?

In a star-driven league, this sounds like a very fitting idea, as more and more fans follow and root for players no matter where they play. This offers fans flexibility of not having to buy a new jersey when their favorite players switch loyalties. When fans buy jerseys now, they have to think long and hard about how many years the player of their choosing has left on his contract, weather he plans to request a trade or leave in free agency, which would make a jersey outdated.

Also, buying a new team jersey of  their favorite player puts the fans at risk of being called bandwagon or fair-weathered fans which sounds like nothing serious, but probably is to many kids. That betting aspect of jersey shopping completely goes away in the future with this innovation. This new technology also works for the ones who are die hard team fans. Since team rosters and numbers change on a yearly basis, using this app allows you to change your jersey along with them. Or if a player disappoints you in any way, and you no longer want to wear his name on your back, all you need to do is one click and your problem is gone.

How much does a NBA Smart Jersey Cost?

After all, organizations will still be motivated by making profit in 20 years, unless the future takes some utopian turn. They could compensate for the reduced number of sales in three ways. Either they will make the jersey as a whole considerably more expensive than the ones now, or they could possibly implement microtransactions any time you want to switch the name. But although those micro-transactions are most likely to be used, the thing that league will probably want to implement that makes sure all this is profitable for them is some kind of monthly subscription. Since these jerseys will need an app to work, using it will probably come at the expense of a monthly fee.

Although in the future jerseys would be gone, everyone loves a throwback and there would still be demand for jerseys

One thing we also don’t know about the smart jerseys is whether they will come for all teams, and whether the logos and the colors will also be possible to switch. The jersey on which commissioner Silver showed us this fascinating new feature was an All-Star basic white one. You have to think that they will come for all teams though, as only the All-Star version of jerseys will probably limit sales numbers since not many people buy those in the first place.

How could a NBA Smart Jersey Change a NBA Game?

What sports fan doesn’t love stats, stats are a part of sports and in particular basketball. What if the NBA Smart Jerseys were brought in to games and had statistics on them. For instance, a player’s foul could be displayed on the shirt and added to as the fouls increased. This would then highlight to the team who was in foul trouble and who had a foul to give. It would change the dynamic of the game. This idea of having a smart jersey to reflect an individuals foul count, time on court and points scored has been discussed in research papers and it has been concluded that:

We initially believed that such increased awareness would positively influence in-game decisions by players, resulting in a more interesting and enjoyable game play experience for all participants. Instead, the case study evaluation demonstrated TeamAwear’s perceived usefulness particularly for non-playing stakeholders, such as the audience, referees and coaches, supporting more accurate coaching assessments, better understanding of in-game situations and increased enjoyment for spectators.

Page M., Vande Moere A. (2007) Evaluating a Wearable Display Jersey for Augmenting Team Sports Awareness. In: LaMarca A., Langheinrich M., Truong K.N. (eds) Pervasive Computing. Pervasive 2007. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 4480. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

Although the study did find that players were hindered by the information in game. I strongly believe that players would soon get used to this and it would make very interesting basketball games.

What is the Release Date of the NBA Smart Jersey?

At this moment in time there is no release date as this was just a concept to show what a NBA jersey may look like in 20 years time. However, it might not be a twenty year wait. Nike already produce the the Nike Connected Jerseys whereby you download an app to your phone and tap the app against the NBA logo at the bottom of the jersey.

This gives you early access to shoe releases, NBA tickets, playlists and NBA highlights. Therefore, the technology to change jersey cannot be too far away.

Can a NBA Smart Jersey be Hacked?

Most of NBA fans want to have the closest version of a jersey to the ones players wear themselves on the court, so the right guess to make is the league will probably make them available for every team. Since every technology comes with the possibility of  it being hacked, that is also one more thing that will come with added costs. But even though it looks as if there are more questions than answers at this particular moment in time, one can’t help but be excited in terms of what the future of NBA basketball has to offer.