If you’re planning on watching the US Open tennis tournament this week, you may spot some of the newest entrants into the wearable tech sector. According to a new report, fashion label Ralph Lauren has teamed up with smartclothes maker OMsignal to bring high end smartshirts into the public eye.
The New York Times has the scoop, explaining that the ball boys at the tournament will each be outfitted in a “sexy nylon T-shirt that marks Ralph Lauren’s entry into the rapidly advancing world of wearable technology.” The article goes on to say that the shirts are the result of a collaboration with OMsignal, and are woven with “conductive silver-coated thread,” which will monitor wearers’ biometric data including “heart rate, breathing and stress levels.”
Interestingly, the article goes on to say that the shirts will stand alone, without needing any “distracting hardware, not a disk, wire or tube in sight.” From what we’ve seen of OMsignal’s product offerings, however, the company’s smartshirts require connection with a Tracking Module that clips onto your clothes and tracks the aforementioned biometric data. What isn’t clear, then, is whether or not these new shirts from Ralph Lauren and OMsignal will be able to work independently from the Tracking Modules, or if the Times piece simply decided that it didn’t fall under the category of “distracting hardware.”
If it’s the former, it would represent an interesting leap forward in the creation of tech-infused apparel. If the latter, it represents less than thorough reporting of what the two companies are going to be putting out.
Still, either way, the arrival of Ralph Lauren to the wearable tech industry heralds a future where other big name brands decide to get in on the act. As more companies look to bring smartclothes to their consumers, the more choices we’ll have, and the less expensive these products will become. OMsignal’s smartshirt and Tracking Module will set you back $200 or so – and the same shirt with the addition of a Ralph Lauren logo can only be more expensive. Hopefully as more options appear, we’ll start to see more competitive pricing to boot.