Light Reading
The worlds of tennis, fashion and wearables collide as Ralph Lauren and OMsignal turn a polo into a sensor to track your every movement.

M2M's In Fashion: Wearables Play the US Open

Sarah Reedy
8/25/2014
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What do you get when you combine country-club sports with high fashion and machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity? Ralph Lauren's new "high-performance, fashion-forward Polo Tech shirt," making its debut at the US Open this week.

The polo comes in black, with Ralph's signature polo player logo in yellow, but more importantly has a conductive thread of sensors knitted into it that read biological and physiological information on the wearer. The technology, powered by Canadian company OMsignal, uses an accelerometer and gyroscope to collect data on the wearer's movement, direction, vitals and even stress level when a ball comes flying across the court.

This data is then transmitted via Bluetooth to the cloud, where it is stored and analyzed, producing information on the user's heartbeat, respiration, stress level, energy output and other activity-related stats, viewable from a mobile app.

Not Just a Fashion Statement
Marcos Giron shows off the new $200 Polo Tech, which uses sensors and a removable electronics pack to track all of an athlete's vitals... and a tight, stretchable knit to show off all of the athlete's six pack.
Marcos Giron shows off the new $200 Polo Tech, which uses sensors and a removable electronics pack to track all of an athlete's vitals... and a tight, stretchable knit to show off all of the athlete's six pack.


For more on wearables, check out our dedicated Internet of Things channel here on Light Reading.


The $200 Polo Tech shirt will be worn by several ball boys during the US Open, as well as by singles player Marcos Giron, but OMsignal sees applications for helping everyday athletes understand their bodies and improve their performance. Check out the following video to see the shirt -- and Giron -- in action.

This falls into the category of M2M apps that can be both useful and pretty cool. It also proves the point that anything that can be connected, will be -- whether by cellular, Bluetooth or another connectivity standard. We're not just talking devices and smartwatches, but your own clothing.

It's not bulky, obvious or outrageously expensive, either; it's simply embedded and running in the background. That's the kind of thing that can get everyone, not just tech geeks or super athletes, excited about the Internet of Things.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
9/3/2014 | 1:07:14 PM
Re: Skeptical
I have no doubt the shirts will sell -- I'm a formerly obese guy myself. But will they be effective? That's the difference between a fad and a tech revolution. 
Liz Greenberg
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Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/26/2014 | 1:44:23 PM
Re: Skeptical
I am with you MendyK...the news is rife with the headline that most consumers abandon wearables within 6 months etc (just search wearables abandoned).  The quantified life is very appealing to some but to most it becomes overhead.  A pedometer is an easy gadget to use and will get the average person moving.  So will an alarm to wake you in the morning.  So at the end of the day, it becomes an expensive T-shirt that many will launder once, fold once and then shelve.  Others will adopt it.
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/26/2014 | 11:59:14 AM
Re: Skeptical
Do you really need wearable tech for this? If the size label on your shirt has an X in it, that's pretty much all you need to know. A $10 t-shirt does this just fine.
kq4ym
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kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/26/2014 | 8:44:26 AM
Re: Skeptical
I'll venture that the shirts, if combined with an app to lose weight might be a best seller to lots of us overweight and obese folks. As two-thirds of the world now fit that category, there's lots of folks out there who will at least try anything, even at $200 a pop.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
8/25/2014 | 8:36:01 PM
Skeptical
Still waiting for a wearable tech gadget with mainstream appeal. This ain't it. Most people aren't pro athletes or even all that serious about exercise.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
8/25/2014 | 4:24:01 PM
Re: fragmentation
Supposedly the two biggest wearable market sectors are medical sensors and pet trackers.
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/25/2014 | 4:09:22 PM
Re: fragmentation
As someone who is now temporarily immersed in a "quantified lifestyle" program, I can say without hesitation that it's a depressing way to live. But to that point, there is a huge and important application for wearables -- in healthcare programs.
SReedy
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SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
8/25/2014 | 3:46:08 PM
Re: fragmentation
I don't think they help during the game, more so after to analyze your performance and make sure your health is in check. It's like a FitBit, but with more functionality and more discrete. People are loving the quanitified life concept, even if they don't do much with the data it seems.
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
8/25/2014 | 2:19:26 PM
Re: fragmentation
I'm still a little unclear on how this helps the player during the game. Afterward, I guess you can look and see how well you performed under stress or in response to certain shots. 

I can't wait to hear some post-game interview in which the player thanks his M2M supplier/analyst.
MarkC73
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MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/25/2014 | 2:03:06 PM
Re: fragmentation
And people asked what will you do with the billion plus IPv6 address that each person on earth will get.  I know someone who'll need that for shoes alone...
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