Contact Rugby Jersey

Project Description 

A good rugby team has strength and stamina, and to achieve such a skilled team it is important that the biggest players i.e, the forwards can keep up the pace throughout the game without getting tired out from high levels of contact. One way to reduce fatigue from high levels of contact is to ensure that scrums are won quickly. Scrums can be very tiring because of the high level of contact, therefore if the scrum is won quickly the forwards will have more strength and stamina to protect the runners and get them to try zone.

The Contact Rugby Jersey is a wearable training aid that can be used by players and coaches to measure the strength of a team’s scrum. When a player goes into contact the timer begins and the back of the shirt will light up indicating to the coach that thirty seconds have passed. Once the timer hits the one minute and thirty seconds mark the light will change from green to yellow and a sound will indicate to the player that they must move quicker. After two minutes the light becomes red and a tempo will begin even further stressing the time urgency to the player. After three minutes the alarm will go off signaling that the scum has gone on for too long. The timer can be stopped at any time by the player one the scrum has been one by one of the teams, to stop the timer the player must exit the scrum and tap the felted button on their chest.

Key Terms 

  1. Scrum: A scrum is a method of restarting play that involves players packing closely together with their heads down and attempting to gain possession of the ball. 
  2. Try Zone: In rugby, the ballcarrier must touch the ball to the ground on or over the goal line (try zone). When the ball is touched to the ground by an attacking player, he (or she) scores a “TRY”!
  3. Dielectric: having the property of transmitting electric force without conduction; insulating.

Project Context 

How wearables are changing athlete performance monitoring – Forbes Magazine

After reading this article I was inspired by the idea of sports performance monitoring. Therefore when I began this project I  wanted to think of ways that I could visualize an athlete’s performance data through brightness, color, and sound. As this article mentions, the measure of performance data can really help coaches reduce guesswork, and support their decision making using real data. While I wasn’t able to develop a final product as sophisticated as some of the wearables listed in this article I felt that I was able to make a simple and useful training aid that is just as effective. As I discovered from my research many of the most successful sports wearables focus on one particular area of sport and performance. By narrowing in on one aspect of a rugby player’s performance I was able to identify time as a unit of measure and represent that data effectively and intuitively through brightness, color, and sound which is exactly what I aimed to do.

The wearable tech giving sports teams winning ways – BBC News

In this article, I was specifically looking to find information on any existing wearable rugby or football training aids. I wanted to know if and how contact was being measured by wearable technology devices on the field today. In this article, I was able to find a couple of products that used sensor data to rest, rotate and recover players appropriately. What intrigued me the most was this quote by Corin Palmer, head of rugby operations for Premiership Rugby.

“Heavier rugby players often find that if they run over a certain distance in a week they can inflame an Achilles [tendon], so some want to spend more time off their feet to maintain fitness and minimise injury risk,”

This quote is inspired me to focus on improving the performance of forward players (often the heaviest players on the team). I wanted to pivot my research here because forward players are a bit more likely to suffer from burn out and injury because of the nature of their position being so contact heavy. Through my research and development, I wanted to see if I could create a wearable device that could improve the forward players’ performance while minimizing the risk of burn out and injury.

In Progress

Video Of Testing

Video of Testing (2)


Link to Code

Design Considerations 

Who is the intended user?

  • rugby players who play forward positions, coaches wanting to improve team stamina.

What is the intended application?

  • To improve stamina and strength of rugby players who play forward position by aiding and training the reduction of time spent in a scrum.

What is the response mechanism?

  • The conductive pads on the shoulder have the capacity to detect when the player is in contact. When in contact the CPX begins the timer. The time is indicated to player with sound and to the coach through the light on the back of the jersey.

Where does the interface physically live on the body? How does that affect how the user interacts with it?

  • The textile interface is on the shoulders pads and the chest felt button. In a scrum the players shoulders are in contact with their opponents head this is the maximum surface area of contact in a scrum which is why it is important that the capacitive contact area is placed on the shoulder. The chest is the area of least contact, the stop button on the chest to decrease the risk of stopping the timer while still in contact.

Is the textile interface sensing the actions of the wearer or of someone else?

  • The textile interface is sensing the actions of the wearer and the opponent.

What is your material palette, conductive, resistive, and non-conductive?

  • My material pallet is fully conductive.

What is the scale of the interface? Tiny? Huge? Somewhere in between?

  • The scale of the textile interface is relatively small taking up only a small portion of the Jerseys surface area.

What body part is meant to activate it?

  • It is meant to activate the sense of contact and pressure in the shoulders.

What mood/attitude/approach are you hoping to incite in your users? Is it a delicate interaction? Rough? Tender? Formal?

  • The interaction of a scrum is rough yet controlled (sometimes) it is essentially a battle of strength, balance and stamina. That being said the overall mood or attitude I am hoping to incite is competitiveness and tenacity.

What type of switches/sensors are you constructing? Digital, analog, or both? How many?

  • I am using a capacitive touch fabric which serves as an analog sensor as well as a digital switch that is made of conductive wool fibers.

What is the mapping between the sensor data and whatever is responding to it? How many modes of interaction are there and what are they?

  • The capacitive touch shoulder pads detect and measure anything that is conductive or has a dielectric different from air. When the touched the capacitive threshold exceeds the dielectric of air activating the shoulder pads and  starting the timer.

What materials don’t you have that you might need? Where will you source them? Will you be able to get them in time?

  • I will defiantly need to buy some conductive thread the conductive fabric and wool fibers I already have. Since I do not have a jersey to sew into I will use a regular cotton T shirt.

Final Product


Final Product Video


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