Benjamin Hubert designs World Cup wearable technology for aspiring footballers
Capitalising on World Cup fever, Benjamin Hubert of LAYER studio has made his first foray into football technology, with the world’s first consumer elite fitness tracking wearable. Designed in collaboration with Catapult (global leader in professional performance analytics), the PLAYR system comprises a smart pod, a high performance vest, and an app, bringing a world-class tracking product to a global audience of aspiring football players, for the first time.
It works much like a FitBit, albeit a highly detailed and connected one. The pod (inserted into the vest, which is worn underneath or over a football jersey) communicates with GPS networks and the PLAYR app to track the athlete during training or a game, monitoring distance covered, sprint distance, pitch heat map, and player load. Innovatively, PLAYR has been designed to integrate into both training and match situations, offering real-time statistics to the players and their coaches, who can advise from the sidelines.
Design-wise, the smart pod is simple and unobtrusive. LEDs communicate the signal strength, battery life, and charging, through the vest, which is woven from advanced high performance textiles. When illuminated, these LEDs reveal a pattern in the reverse of the top surface of the pod to communicate the technological, high-performance nature of the system.
Flashing lights and remote charging gizmos aside, will it actually work? History dictates that it will. The Catapult story began in Australia, when the country’s Olympic team returned from the 1976 Montreal Games without a single gold medal. To avoid repeating this performance, the Australian government created a world-leading academy for the country’s best young athletes. It was here that the founders of Catapult began to measure all facets of performance in an effort to improve sport through evidence based science. They soon developed wearable sensors, and the technology was developed for Australian athletes competing at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Australia won more medals than ever before – a total of 58.
It was LAYER’s job to translate this elite experience and message into a widely accessible product, so they were also commissioned to rethink Catapult’s visual identity, and they took a holistic approach. Hubert and his team focussed on simplifying how Catapult communicates complex information. The logo mark features the same softly angular forms as the PLAYR system to create a unified high performance design language in tune with the mindset of Catapult’s audience.§