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. A much better way of integrating connected tech into our daily lives is through fabric that covers the body. After all, connected tech is at its best when it is inconspicuous.
Essential reading: Connected hats – niche or novelty
Sensors embedded into your everyday wear are in a perfect position to understand the minute workings of your body. From monitoring your heat rate to analyzing 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.
Current generation sensors are either attached to apparel or embedded into the garment itself. In the next generation the garment will be the sensor. It might even be able to charge itself on the go through sunlight or kinetic energy.
It is 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 struggling Swiss watch makers, it will also render watches back into fashion items.
The 20 gram Athos Core collects and analyzes data from a line of clothing embedded with micro-EMG sensors. What makes this product unique is that it 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 OmBra last year, along with a smartphone app called OMrun. The product was actually created four years ago but has only hit the market recently due to a lack of resources.
OMBra 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 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 the ground with the heel or the ball of your foot. This is important to prevent injury when running.
The smart garment connects to a lightweight anklet which wirelessly relays data during your run to the Sensoria Fitness mobile app. You then get information in real-time such as your cadence and foot landing technique.
The accompanying smartphone app monitors your run in much more detail and provides a foot heat-map as well as information on 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 parameters. The app also allows you to tailor your goals and track progress.
Hoxoskin is another Canadian based outfit. The startup has a 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 a number of space agencies, 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 30 hours.
Hexoskin is available for both men and women. There are also short and long sleeved versions to choose from.
These innovative pyjamas use infrared technology to reduce inflammation and help you sleep better. They were created in collaboration with star NFL quarterback Tom Brady’s wellness brand TB12.
Dubbed the Sleep & Recovery System, the garment is the first of its kind. The key is the print on the inside of the sleepwear, which uses bioceramic particles to absorb the body’s natural heat and reflect back “Far Infrared.” This helps the body recover faster while promoting better sleep as confirmed by a NIH independent study.
The technology is currently used for therapeutic purposes in lamps and saunas. Apparently, the idea for the garment came from Brady himself some three years ago. The company has been working since then trying to figure out the best way to embed the infrared tech into clothing. It’s only recently that it has hit the shops.
Amazon | *
Nadi X intelligent pants listen and respond to your body, helping you achieve that perfect yoga experience.
The slick looking, Bluetooth enabled pants have Pulse sensors woven into the hips, knees, and ankles. As you go about performing your poses, the pants keep tabs at specific points around the body and gently vibrate in the direction of the necessary adjustment if your pose is a bit off.
The data is communicated in real-time to the smartphone app immediately shows what the correct pose should look like. The app contains around 40 poses, as well as music to help you chill.
Mercury is a sleek looking urban jacket from Ministry of Supply. The garment is 90% recycled, voice-controllable through assistants like Amazon Alexa, wind/waterproof, and best of all, uses machine learning to heat to your optimal temperature. Originally launched on Kickstarter, the company raised more than $600,000 to make this product a reality. Backers have just started receiving the jacket.
There are other battery-powered thermal jackets on the market, but what’s really innovative about Mercury is the machine-learning element. It reads temperature, motion data, and user preferences to provide the right amount of heat across a wide range of environments. Put more simply, it knows what you want before you even tell it.
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