Our clothes already say a lot about us, but Ralph Lauren’s newest shirt is designed to help you learn more about yourself and your health.
The Polo Tech Smart Shirt, which will be making its debut on the tennis court at this year’s US Open, is capable of tracking your heart rate, how many calories you’ve burned, and your stress levels.
Though the ball boys will be wearing Ralph Lauren’s shirt during the US Open, the Polo Tech Smart Shirt won’t hit mainstream retail until spring 2015.
The silver coated-thread woven into the shirt’s fibre combined with its sensors enable it to pick up this data during your workout.
The sensors, which include an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a heart rate monitor, are housed in a black box that’s embedded discretely in the shirt.
This box can be taken off the shirt so that you can throw it in a washing machine with your laundry just like you would with any other article of clothing.
You also need to charge this box to keep it running. But Ralph Lauren tells us it can endure 30 workouts without running out of battery. This should equate to about 30 hours of battery life, depending on how long you work out.
That doesn’t mean the shirt is designed for athletic use only. Since it measures your heart rate, Ralph Lauren tells us it can detect when you’re nervous versus when you’re calm.
The shirt has Ralph Lauren’s signature Polo branding in its name, but don’t expect to see the collared pastel-coloured look you’d see with a regular Polo. The Polo Tech Smart Shirt looks more like a sleek, fitted workout shirt you’d wear in a gym or out on a running track. The fitted design makes it easier for the shirt to pick up on your heart rate and stress levels since the sensors are making contact with your skin. This tight fit also enables the shirt to tell you about your breathing patterns, which can be crucial during athletic training.
From what we’ve seen, the sensors pick up on changes in your heart rate almost instantly. When we visited Ralph Lauren’s New York headquarters, a model demonstrated the technology by performing push-ups while wearing the shirt. Ralph Lauren’s accompanying app showed how his heart rate fluctuated depending on how much effort he exerted.
Ralph Lauren’s Smart Shirt is just one of many computerized clothing items to debut this year. At CES 2014, the biggest consumer technology conference of the year, French startup Cityzen Sciences debuted an exercise shirt loaded with sensors for monitoring your heart rate, steps taken, and more. Similarly, the Sensoria Smart Socks come with sensors for helping runners learn about their foot’s form during workouts.
But Ralph Lauren believes it’s legacy as an iconic fashion brand will give it a leg up in the wearables space.
“We actually design clothes,” David Lauren, executive vice president of Ralph Lauren’s global advertising, marketing, and corporate communications, told Business Insider. “Whereas, a technology company [may not] understand clothing or understand fabric and clothing and customising.”
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