Fashionable Wearables: Ralph Lauren Unveils Smart Shirt at U.S. Open

Fashion-forward fitness aficionados will soon be able to track a variety of health data by wearing a high-tech performance shirt from designer Ralph Lauren.

Everybody knows Ralph Lauren's Polo line of clothing, with the distinct polo player logo. That emblem has remained the same since the 1960s, but Polo just introduced a brand new garment that's truly unique to the company: A shirt that sports a number of different sensors designed to collect various fitness data and then send it to a mobile app for storage and analysis.

The Polo Tech Shirt is made of moisture-wicking material, it's form-fitting and it collects data including distance travelled, calories burned, "intensity of movement," heart rate and stress rate, according to the company.

polo ralph lauren wearable tech app Ralph Lauren

None of these things are particularly impressive; most high-end fitness trackers do all of this and more. The idea of a "smart shirt," or smart connected clothing, also isn't new, but the support of a prestigious and recognizable mainstream designer like Mr. Lauren lends the idea a new degree of credence.

Ralph Lauren is the latest notable designer to enter the wearable technology space. Recently Diane von Furstenberg entered the fray with her unique take on Google Glass, and Tory Burch released a line of funky Fitbit accessories. The trend suggests that the next wave of modern wearables will be much more fashion-focused.

Ralph Lauren won't sell the Polo Tech shirt until some time in 2015, but it is showing off the garment at this month's U.S. Open.

From a related Ralph Lauren press release:

"Lauren is dressing several ball boys in the Polo Tech Shirt during select matches at the Billie Jean National Tennis Center. Marcos Giron, the No. 1 singles player in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, is playing in his first Grand Slam in Flushing, and he will wear the Polo Tech shirt during his practices. He will track his biometrics and making adjustments in real time to his play, form and breathing."

The shirt uses sensors from Canada's OMsignal, and the sensors are built directly into the garment. If the Polo Tech Shirt is anything like OMsignal's own wearable-tech clothing, it won't come cheap. The company's Up & Running Kit, which includes one bio-sensing compression shirt, one data module, and one USB charging cable, is currently listed for pre-order for $240, though it's on sale right now for $199. The OMsignal kit is expected to ship in November.

You can learn more about Ralph Lauren's Polo Tech Shirt on the company's website. If you're interested in more quirky but valuable wearables, check out my recent slide show, "21 Weird and Wacky Wearables You'll Actually Want."


Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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