If you thought Samsung, Google and the myriad of tech startups and fitness tracking firms were going to be the only companies looking to get into the wearable game, think again, as it looks like the fashion firms are starting to take notice. Ralph Lauren is now looking to enter the wearable market with smart shirt that’s designed to collect data on ball boys during the US Open golf tournament.
Of course though, Ralph Lauren didn’t have the technical know how to do this itself, it teamed up with technology firm OMSignal to produce the biometric tracking shirts. They currently collect data from the wearer’s movements, like speed and direction, allowing for analysis of their performance throughout the event. The wearer and their bosses can look at these stats via a companion wearable application that works on your average smartphone.
It’s not clear if the fashion house plans to sell the shirts to consumers, or if select numbers of the wearable garments will be given out to workers at the US Open only. However, chances are it will act as a proof of concept for further developments if interest in the product is high. Something tells me the techy but fashionable polo shirts won’t be cheap if they are made available elsewhere.
“Our vision is that this will transcend sports to help us at every age and in every aspect of life,” said David Lauren, son of Ralph and the EVP of advertising and marketing for Ralph Lauren. “Reaching far beyond just the needs of elite athletes, Polo Tech will offer innovative technology for all ages and lifestyles to promote general wellness and quality of life.”
This isn’t the first wearable garment we’ve seen out of fashion firms though, with UK based Adrien Sauvage announcing a partnership with Microsoft earlier this year to release a pair of smartphone charging trousers. They weren’t a particularly well integrated wearable product however, as it was just a QI charge plate inserted into a pair of trousers which had to be charged separately and then could keep your smartphone from running out of battery while you’re out and about. An interesting proof of concept, but an expensive one that seemed unlikely to catch on.
It’s worth remembering however that for every few of these off the wall wearables, we’ll find one that is unique enough and cost effective enough to become quite a household name among wearable early adopters. As these types of technological products become more common place too, we’re likely to see more and more companies, especially those in the image focused fashion game, starting to contribute their own ideas to the market.[Thanks ZDnet]
Image Source: Ralph Lauren