Want the latest in tech gadgets? Do not line up at the Apple store this time, or think FitBit. Instead, go to designer Ralph Lauren’s store for the newest tech gadget — clothes. Yep! This Thursday, Ralph Lauren will begin selling its “PoloTech” shirt, which features sensors to capture heart rate, breathing depth, calories burned, balance and other biometrics while working out that can be used to develop customizable workouts.
Proudly boasting that they are the first luxury brand to sell “smart apparel,” Ralph Lauren announced that the tight-fitting, crew-necked black T-shirt has sensors knitted into the cost that read biological and physiological information, which is transmitted to an iPhone app. Of course, the wearable technology, which will retail at $295 (about two to three times their other workout Ts), will also feature the brand’s signature Polo Player logo in yellow.
The basic shirt is 70 percent polyester, 21 percent nylon and 9 percent spandex, which makes the top stretchy to allow ample movement. Another plus: it’s machine washable. One design limitation right now is that the PoloTech shirt is sized and the technology based on adult men. However, David Lauren, executive vice president for advertising, marketing and communications at Ralph Lauren, has said that shirts for women are in the works and that we should expect to see them in the near future.
Ralph Lauren developed its PoloTech shirt using technology from Montreal-based OMsignal. With their staff experts in neuroscience, sports medicine and design engineering, OM made the shirt itself the sensor. There is a “black box” on the shirt that captures and transmits data to the cloud and the wearer’s smartphone, which uses various algorithms convert the data into performance information to gauge energy output, stress levels and more. OmSignal is reportedly also planning to sell shirts of their own using the technology.
The PoloTech shirt has been in the works for some time. It debuted at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, where Ralph Lauren is a major sponsor, last August. The company had Marcos Giron, the then top singles player in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, wear the PoloTech shirt during his practices to, using the biometrics tracked by the shirt, make real-time adjustments to his play, breathing and form in preparation for playing in his first Grand Slam tennis tournament. As the tournament’s official outfitter, the company also dresses the ball boys in PoloTech shirts during some of the two-week U.S. Tennis Association tournament matches last year.
The shirt will be released in stores and online on Thursday. It is timed to coincide with the start of this year’s U.S. Open tennis competition.
Will the shirt find a market beyond gadget fans and elite athlete? Possibly, just like dry-max type shirts, Polartek skiwear and other changes in sportswear, the market will grow as prices drop and other lines appear. David Lauren indicated that Ralph Lauren’s “vision” is that this newest tech gadget/clothes “will transcend sports to help us at every age and in every aspect of life.”Reaching beyond just the needs of elite athletes, Polo Tech offers innovative technology for all ages and lifestyles to promote general wellness and quality of life.
Written and edited by Dyanne Weiss
Tech Times: Ralph Lauren’s PoloTech Smart Shirt To Go On Sale For $295
New York Post: The hot new Polo shirt that tells you how to work out
The Verge: Ralph Lauren’s ‘smart’ shirt is the ultimate preppy tech
Photo courtesy of Ralph Lauren