Football is the world’s most popular sport. Its fans have access to every possible kind of background information, from the number of kilometres ran to passes completed and goals scored. The game evokes powerful emotions not only in the audience but on the pitch, too.

The players’ real emotions, however, have remained a mystery to the fans. Until now.

We joined forces with Elisa’s experimental marketing hub Elisa Kulma, the Finnish top division football team HIFK, and a team of cognitive neuroscientists.

First, we created a wearable version of an ultra light EEG scanner, which was able to send data on the player’s brainwaves to a computer in real time from long distances. Using the latest studies in their field, the neuroscientists developed algorithms to translate the EEG signals into four different emotions or states of mind: Flow, Go, Stop and Effort.

Ventures like this would normally belong in a laboratory, but we decided to set the bar even higher.

We launched the project at the hottest game of the season, the local derby between Helsinki teams HIFK and HJK. The EEG scanner was taped on the back of HIFK defender Tommi Vesala.

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