In the past few years, the wearable tech market has come to encompass an array of new consumer-friendly accessories: Think watches, wrist bands, glasses, bracelets and rings. But some brands are thinking bigger.
To coincide with the start of the U.S. Open on Monday, Ralph Lauren is launching a wearable tech apparel collection, beginning with a "Polo Tech" shirt that gives biometric feedback to the wearer. A variety of sensors knitted into garment allow it to measure heart rate (and the variability thereof), breathing rates, breathing depth, steps and calories burned. (If you're interested, those sensors include an ECG, a breathing sensor and, to clock movement, an accelerometer and gyroscope.) All of that data is recorded in a little black box attached at the wearer's ribcage and transmitted via Bluetooth to an accompanying iPhone app.
Oh, and as for the fabric itself, it's also anti-microbial and moisture-wicking. Obviously.
While this shirt marks a break from the accessories we've seen so much of recently, tech-enabled fabric is a field that's actually been heating up for quite a while. To handle the actual technical stuff, Ralph Lauren turned to the Canadian company OMsignal, which makes that little black tracker and has been developing its own, very similar-looking range of fitness shirts, now available for pre-order.
For a startup founded just three years ago hoping to get traction and a retail giant angling to get in on the wearable tech fervor, the deal could turn out to be mutually beneficial. And it appears to have worked out well from a design standpoint. This is definitely the type of product that fitness buffs with some extra cash will want to test out.