Lets face it – the wrist is probably not the best place to stick a bunch of sensors. Not if we truly want wearables to go mainstream. Tracking your heart rate, for example, isn’t always the most accurate when its done from the wrist. A much better way of integrating connect tech into your daily life is through fabric that covers your body. After all, wearable tech is at its best when it is inconspicuous.
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Sensors embedded into your every day wear are in a perfect position to understand the minute workings of your body. From monitoring your heat rate to analyzing your sweat and keeping tabs on your breathing. The possibilities are endless. Best of all, these are items you would have worn anyway, but smarter. Which means no extra effort or adjustments to your routine.
First generation sensors are attached to apparel and this is the approach currently taken by major sportswear brands such as Adidas and Under Armour. Second generation products embed the sensor in the garment itself as demonstrated by products from Ralph Lauren. In third generation the garment will be the sensor.
Its safe to say, we can look forward to a not too distant future when having smart clothes in your wardrobe becomes the norm. And when this happens, it will make wrist worn fitness trackers obsolete. And to the delight of Swiss watch makers, it will also render watches back into fashion items.
The 20 gram Athos Core collects and analyzes data from the Athos line of clothing which is embedded with micro-EMG sensors. And this is what makes this product unique. Athos gear can collect and evaluate electrical activity produced by your muscles to show how hard they are working.
Slipping on an Athos shirt will allow you to track exertion of major upper-body muscle groups: pecs, biceps, triceps, deltoids, lats and traps. Shorts track exertion of major lower-body muscle groups: inner quads, outer quads, hamstrings and glutes. The information is relayed via Bluetooth to the smartphone app which in turn provides real-time biometric tracking, including muscle activity and insights to help you to exercise correctly and avoid injury.
With this gadget, you can also track your heart and breathing rate, and there is a 6-axis accelerometer for measuring movement, calorie expenditure and active time versus rest time.
Canadian tech company OMsignal released the Om Bra recently, along with a smartphone app called OMrun. The product was actually created four years ago but has only hit the market now due to a lack of resources.
OM Bra goes beyond the basic heart rate. It also measures metrics such as distance, time, cadence, pace, impact, and breathing rhythm. This is the first ever sports bra to combine heart and breathing rhythms to deliver actionable insights for runners of all levels. Intensity level data is utilized for optimal progress and fat burning results, while helping reduce the risk of injury and fatigue.
The bra is adjustable with straps, padding and cups. It also comes in four sizes and four colors designed to fit your needs.
If you are after a sports bra, you could also opt for the Sensoria Sports Bra (view on Amazon). The garment allows you to snap any Bluetooth smart heart rate monitor onto the front of the bra, and the textile electrodes sewn into the bra detect your heart rate and feed it to the heart rate monitor.
These are no ordinary socks. Sensoria Smart Socks are infused with 100% textile pressure sensors to inform you in real-time when you are striking with the heel or the ball of your foot.
The smart garment connects to a light weight anklet which wirelessly relays data during your run to the Sensoria Fitness mobile app. You will then get information in real-time such as your cadence and foot landing technique.
The smartphone app monitors your run in much more detail detail and provides you with a foot heat-map as well as information on your foot landing, contact time on the ground, cadence, pace, heart rate (when connected with the Sensoria HRM or other devices), speed, distance, altitude gains, GPS track and many other paramenters. The app also allows you to tailor your goals and track your progress.
At CES 2017, Sensoria announced the second generation of its fitness sock. You now get more data, and Sensoria Core, the unit which houses the technology, is smaller. Pre-orders for Sensoria Sock 2.0 will soon be available for delivery later in 2017.
The luxury fashion brand Ralph Lauren is an unlikely name in the race to produce fashionable tech garments. Its men’s only PoloTech Shirt was designed with OMsignal to read vital signs like heart rate and variability, breathing depth and recovery, intensity of movement, energy output and stress levels, steps taken and calories burned.
Conductive threads are woven into the compression top and a lightweight module snaps around the left rib cage to relay information via Bluetooth. The smartphone app offers live fitness monitoring and offers workouts tailor-made to how your body is reacting. The shirts itself is 70%, 21% nylon and for elasticity 9% spandex.
Lumo Run is a small and discreet sensor that measures and coaches you on your running form to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. This standalone sensor, which measures only 25 grams, clips onto the back of the waistband and works with any pair of running shorts.
The device can measure a whole host of metrics including cadence, bounce, ground contact time, braking, pelvic rotation and stride length. Using these metrics, Lumo Run offers run summaries for each run through the Lumo Run app, auditory coaching via headphones during the run, and personalized coaching tips to help the runner improve form for better performance and injury prevention.
Hoxoskin is another Canadian based outfit. The startup is already on its second generation line of smart shirts which are capable of tracking the wearer’s heart rate, heart rate recovery, heart rate variability, breathing rate, VO2 max, minute ventilation, activity level, acceleration, calories, cadence and steps. An impressive list indeed.
The company says its products have been chosen by 4 space agencies, 3 military organizations, and professional sports teams around the world.
A small device slips into the shirt pouch to capture data in real time. It then sends it all via Bluetooth to a smartphone app which dishes out various insights. You can even sync data with third party apps such as Strava, RunKeeper and Endomondo. The battery life is an impressive 30 hours.
Unlike the Ralph Lauren shirt, Hexoskin is available for both men and women. There are also short and long sleeved versions to choose from.
The sleeveless, base-layer shirt shirt is designed with two heart rate sensors directly embedded into the fabric. Under the collar you will find a little GPS-equipped pod, that tracks speed, distance and acceleration.
Unvalied at the start of this year, the shirt plays nicely with Polar’s Team Pro coaching platform. This is a platform used by a number of NBA, NHL and MLB teams to gain insights into their players’ performance, recovery and other metrics. The release of the smart shirt means they can now forget about the uncomfortable chest strap.
The Polar Team Pro Shirt is due to arrive sometime in March, but you may not be able to buy it. It is instead aimed at professional athletes and coaches. Pricing information is not currently available.
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