At the US Open this year, ballboys donning Ralph Lauren “Polo Tech” shirts that merge biometrics and active lifestyle apparel, featuring sensors knitted into the garment itself to read biological and physiological information.
As the official outfitter of the two-week US Tennis Association tournament, Ralph Lauren is pushing boundaries—and riding the fashion giant’s wave is OMsignal, a Montreal-based startup that raised $10 million earlier this summer to create “smart clothing,” which it believes is more practical than wearable hardware technology.
“It was clear from our very first meeting that Ralph Lauren had clarity of mind about the future of fashion tech,” said Stéphane Marceau, CEO of OMsignal. “Its legendary Polo brand and unparalleled design and merchandising capabilities make Ralph Lauren a natural partner to bring smart clothing technology into everyday lives.”
With OMsignal, the data collected by the shirt is stored by a “black box,” which includes an accelerometer and gyroscope, which capture movement and direction. That ”black box” transmits the data into the cloud, where it is plugged into a number of algorithms that gauge important performance-oriented biometrics, including heartbeat and respiration, as well as some psychometrics, such as stress level and energy output.
“Ralph Lauren continues to be at the cutting edge of fashion and culture,” said David Lauren, Senior Vice President of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations for Ralph Lauren. “Our goal is to create and reflect the ultimate lifestyle, and we believe that a healthy and active life is an essential part of that. Ralph Lauren is excited to help lead the industry in wearable technology in this ever-evolving, modern world.”
David Brewer, US Open Tournament Director, believes the technology OMsignal embedded in Ralph Lauren’s polos could “revolutionize how players train and compete,” but Lauren believes the tech is applicable to everyday life as well.
“Our vision is that this will transcend sports to help us at every age and in every aspect of life,” he says. “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.”