The wearable tech field just got a little bit more elegant, thanks to Ralph Lauren. The American luxury giant debuts the Polo Tech shirt at the 2014 US Open, where several ball boys will wear the shirt on-court. Partnering with Montreal-based wellness innovators OMsignal, the shirt represents the growing relevance of wearable tech in the mainstream marketplace as well as its own set of technical permutations. A conductive thread woven throughout the shirt captures biometric feedback to measure for activity, breathing and cardiac readings, which is then communicated to a processor where it's analyzed and displayed (quite aesthetically) on a Polo-designed app. As OMsignal co-founder and CEO Stephane Marceau explains, "The shirt is the sensor—we don't glue or attach and patch anything—it's the textile itself."
The rechargeable processing unit—about the size of a credit card—buttons onto the shirt. In addition to processing biometric data, the unit contains an accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope to capture lateral and forward movement. This allows for detailed breakdowns of workouts and daily activity—including monitoring breath inhale and exhale ratio. "Breathing balance changes elements of your physiology, it can change how your feel, it's very fundamental, " says Marceau. Keeping in tune with a holistic notion of wellness, the Polo Tech shirt is as focused on stress-level awareness as it is on calories burned.
"We're the first major luxury fashion brand to really use wearable technology and we think it's going to change the game, we think you're going to see lots of players entering this market," adds David Lauren, Executive Vice President of Marketing, Advertising and Communications at Ralph Lauren. The brand's foray into wearable tech is likely to not be the last. Lauren explains that the sensory threading can be woven into a variety of fabric types and weights. "We started with a compression shirt and we're debuting it at the US Open—which we sponsor—because it's a wonderful platform for people to see the technology at a high performance level. If it works there, it can work anywhere," Lauren says.
Expect the Polo Tech shirt to hit the market in early 2015 and keep an eye out for the shirt at this year's 2014 US Open where we'll finally be able to measure just how stressful it is to chase down Roger Federer's serve.
Images courtesy of Ralph Lauren