Wearable tech now available as a muscle shirt, 'smart bra' is next


  • Lifestyle
  • Wednesday, 4 Jun 2014

Wearable technology steps up its invasion of the human body with 'smart clothing' — OMsignal's new line of T-shirts that boasts sensors woven into the fabric is only the beginning. 

The idea of a watch or wristband with the capacity to track fitness enthusiasts' cardio and respiratory rates is nothing new; however, recent advances have put tech in the textile. Enter the 'smart clothing' revolution. It's the latest craze among young technology companies like OMsignal, whose new line of Biometric Smartwear T-shirts boasts sensors woven directly into the fabric.

The T-shirts are not only able to process the usual vital-sign data during a workout; they also connect the user to the Internet via proxy. The user’s exercise statistics are relayed through the sensors to a 'tracking module' — a small black box clipped onto the shirt that transmits a constant stream of updates to the shirt wearer's smartphone via Bluetooth. 

Can clothes make you smarter? Going by the looks of OMsignal's line of Biometric Smartwear tight-fitting and sensor-loaded T-shirts, it'll at least make you want to go to the gym more often. The T-shirts come in long-sleeved (above left), short-sleeved, and sleeveless styles, while the 'tracking module' (above right) streams information to the wearer's smartphone. 

Company co-founder Stephane Marceau says the new generation of fitness enthusiasts is information-hungry. “The first cars were completely blind. Then you had a gas gauge. Then a speedometer. Now you can’t imagine a car without these things,” he said. “Smart clothing is starting to do the same thing for the human body.”

OMsignal’s T-shirts cost US$80 (RM260) and the necessary module costs US$120 (RM390). The company is currently accepting pre-orders to be shipped this summer. Despite the high costs, the fabric also claims to be moisture-wicking and anti-microbial — and perhaps most importantly, it's machine washable (but don't forget to unclip the sensor box).

Intended for a tight fit, the product enhances oxygen distribution to the muscles and increases blood flow, according to the company, which also said the shirt has additional slimming and posture support benefits but did not expand on how it works.

OMsignal is part of a growing group of innovative companies, which include laboratories like Cityzen Sciences based in Lyon, France. Creation of a smart bra with technology similar to OMsignal’s T-shirts is underway at San Francisco-based Sensilk.

Computerised clothing may soon be on the front lines, as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency looks to develop training and battle tools for soldiers. — AFP/RelaxNews