A Stylish Wearable Tech That’s More Convenient to Wear than a Wrist Band
Wristbands designed to monitor their wearers’ health have become this year’s trend among device manufacturers. From Samsung’s Galaxy Gear Fit to Sony’s Smart Band and the myriad other similar devices produced by various manufacturers, the focus on health wearables couldn’t be more obvious. However, nobody seems to be interested in producing a smart shirt.
Well, things may change soon as Ralph Lauren expressed intentions of entering the world of wearable technology. How? Through smart t-shirts. At the US Open, Monday, the world famous high end clothing and accessories company is set to debut their smart t-shirt wearable technology. Their wearable tech product will be modeled and demonstrated by the ball boys at the US Open.
Ralph Lauren Wearable Tech Shirt
As announced through a press release, the Ralph Lauren wearable tech shirt will be showcased in the US Open this Monday. It is a stylish form-fitting athletic shirt with the famous Ralph Lauren polo pony in yellow adorning the front side. The shirt will look just like most other stylish Ralph Lauren shirt but what is not visible underneath is what makes it special.
In an interview of New York Times with David Lauren, the executive vice president for advertising at Ralph Lauren, the company is said to be skipping to what is considered as something new, the idea of putting smart technology in apparel. While the demand for wearable technology is being exploited by many companies through various products such as wrist bands and watches, for Ralph Lauren the better idea is to bring it to apparel. As Mr. Lauren noted, “we live in our clothes” so it’s only logical to try bringing smart technology in things that everyone cannot not wear. Mr. Lauren claims that their company is the first mainstream company to bring smart technology in a fashion line.
Unfortunately, you’re in for a disappointment if you expect a shirt that will allow you to answer your smartphone or control smart appliances like lights or air-conditioning systems. What Ralph Lauren does is to simply act as a body monitor. It is a nylon t-shirt that comes with seamlessly embedded sensors to collect data about the health of its wearer. Beneath the shirt is a conductive silver-coated thread woven into the fiber to allow the shirt to do what it is meant to do without being uncomfortable and thicker or bulkier for comfort.
While the wearer may not receive calls, send or read text messages, or get notifications or alerts from their smartphones or tablets through the shirt, the apparel is still designed to connect to a smartphone or other smart mobile devices to be able to display the body data collected in real time.
The shirt has no attachments, attachable/detachable accessories, or other bulky parts but it comes with a little “black box” that comes with an accelerometer and gyroscope. This component is responsible for capturing movement and direction data. It is also responsible for the transmission of data into the cloud or the connected device (smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc). The black box is like a flat device that is around a third of the size of an average palm. It is designed for continuous data collection and is water-resistant but not designed to be submersible. Its wireless data connectivity is through low-power Bluetooth LE. It is powered by a rechargeable battery that is rated to last up to three days of continuous use.
The technology behind this wearable tech product from Ralph Lauren is created by OMsignal, a Canada-based company with expertise in neuroscience, sports medicine, and engineering. OMsignal’s technology makes the shirt itself the sensor that comprehensively collects physiological data in seamless, unobtrusive manner. OMsignal is an expert in smart wear solutions and has its own collection of biometric “smartwear.”
According to Lauren, the company’s range of smart technology bearing apparel will be available next year. The range will include classic dress shirts and athletic wear. Mr. Lauren is unable to quote specific prices yet but the shirts will likely be less expensive than smart watches from the leading mainstream device manufacturers.
Ralph Lauren won’t be the first company to offer smart shirts, biometric shirts, or fitness tracking shirts. There have been other companies that tried the idea before but they are not as popular as Ralph Lauren. Georgia Tech even introduced an odd wearable motherboard before. Nevertheless, it’s Ralph Lauren that’s arguably making a headway in coming up with something not so smart but good enough to hitch on the smart wearable technology bandwagon.