What if your shirt could improve your golf swing, jump shot or shave a few seconds off your next marathon? In the past, this could really only be accomplished by testing your performance and to a lesser extent, visual inspection. For example, let’s say that your goal is to increase your aerobic capacity or stamina. To reach that goal you decide to tack a few extra miles onto your next jog. But how would you know if you have actually been able to improve your cardiovascular system? You would need to be able to measure things like your heart rate, blood pressure, and body fat – also known as your biometrics. Biometrics is the measurement of physical traits or behaviors and recently, wearable biometrics or “smart clothes” have taken on a life of their own.
How do smart clothes work?
There are a number of technologies at work in smart clothes, one being the textile and yarn. Special yarn or weavable fiber can be coated with thin layers of metals making them conductive yet allowing them to be twisted with natural fibers. These yarns can be used with the same weave as classical yarns. Another key technology is the information systems that can be tapped with the use of transmitters that are also attached to the fabric. Sensors woven into the fabric act as the biometric unit picking up on information like your heart rate and even perform the telemetry portion of sending it to your watch, smart-phone or laptop to be reviewed.
So where can you find smart clothes? Some products are still in the prototype phase and not yet available in stores. But here are some of the clothes that are, or will be, available in the near future to keep you on track for your next big race or just keep your physical health in tip top condition.
This sports apparel company teamed up with Zephyr Technology to create the E39, which has a monitoring device in the middle of the shirt that will record your every move. Zephyr has used the technology in the E39 for U.S. special forces, so you know its got to be on point. Although the E39 shirt won’t be available for purchase until 2013, it promises to do all kinds of cool stuff from tracking your heart rate, your breathing and even the G-forces produced when you take a tight corner on your runs. Special sensors in the shirt pick up electrical signals from your body. The data will then be uploaded and transmitted to any a handheld device of your choosing.