This week the New York Times broke the news of a surprising new entrant in the wearable activity tracker space: Ralph Lauren, the fashion label known for their polo shirts and ties. At the US Open, the Times reports, the clothier equipped ball boys with form fitting black tee-shirts, emblazoned with the Ralph Lauren logo, that track users' biometrics. Ralph Lauren has teamed with OMsignal to make the garments.
"Everyone is exploring wearable tech watches and headbands and looking at cool sneakers," Ralph Lauren executive vice president for advertising David Lauren told the Times. "We skipped to what we thought was new, which is apparel. We live in our clothes."
The shirts measure heart rate, stress, breathing, distance, intensity of movement, and calories burned, and send that data to a user's smartphone. Ralph Lauren expects to make them available by the beginning of next year, along with a dress shirt version, according to the Times.
Back in July when OMsignal raised $10 million, CEO and cofounder Stéphane Marceau told MobiHealthNews that the company planned to use some of the funds to explore partnerships with fitness and sportswear apparel companies.
“Smart clothing will become a pervasive and normal aspect of consumers’ lives,” he said in a statement at the time. “Following the recent launch of our Biometric Smartwear collection, we are continuing to receive orders from all over the world, developing new designs and working with top partners to bring our technology to an even wider consumer base.”
That Ralph Lauren is interested in health-sensing clothing speaks powerfully to the idea that this technology is moving into the mainstream, and it follows several recent developments in a similar vein. Last month, Tory Burch introduced a line of designer jewelry for wearing Fitbit activity trackers. In April, Misfit Shine added Bloom, a jewelry-style pendant, to its product lineup.
Last year, mPERS maker QMedic said it was in talks with Cartier to design a version of its device, and almost exactly a year ago, Vogue magazine dedicated a page to wearables as a celebrity fashion statement.