In recent years, says Dr Ryan Shelton, smart clothing has become a new frontier for tech companies looking to innovate in the health industry. In the past, most wearable devices have been focused on telling people about how they can improve their health and wellness with data from fitness trackers or apps. Now, a new generation of companies is leveraging technology to create more dynamic garments that measure biometrics and change their shape and appearance based on what is going on inside your body.
The Benefits of Smart Clothing
Wearable devices provide information about your wellness and help you keep track of things like exercise or sleep patterns. Smart clothing, however, takes it a step further by responding to what is going on inside your body in real-time with dynamic materials that change their shape based on biometrics such as heart rate, blood pressure, temperature levels, and hydration levels. This can be especially useful for people suffering from chronic conditions like diabetes, where they need to constantly monitor what’s happening inside their body without having to take off wearable tech each time they want data.
Smart Clothing & How It Works
The companies leading the way in smart clothes include OMsignal (which has partnered with Under Armour), Hexoskin (worn by Canadian Olympic athletes), Sensoria (a company that makes socks and bras), and Nike, which has just released a new line of smart clothing called “Nike Adapt.”
All of these companies use different technologies to collect biometric data. OMsignal, for example, collects heart rate, breathing patterns, and activity data through sensors in the fabric. Hexoskin uses conductive thread to monitor heart rate and breathing levels, while Sensoria relies on textile electrodes to track heart rate, steps taken and calories burned. Nike’s new line of adaptive clothes includes a sensor-laden sports bra and shirt and pants with built-in heating elements.
Smart Clothing Available Now
There are already several products on the market that take advantage of smart clothing technology.
OMsignal, for example, has released two versions of its clothing – one that you wear under your clothes and another where the sensors are built into a shirt or tank top so it can be worn on its own without any extra bulk. Hexoskin’s smart shirts include 15 sensors in total to monitor heart rate, breathing rates, and activity levels. At the same time, Sensoria sells three different kinds of socks (running, every day & fitness) and a bra with textile electrodes sewn into the lining to track vital signs, including pulse, respiration rate, and calorie burn. Nike recently launched an athletic collection called “Nike Adapt,” which includes several pieces of reversible running gear equipped with heating elements designed to keep runners warm during cold-weather runs while also delivering bio-data to their phones.
While this is still an emerging technology, companies like OMsignal and Hexoskin have been working on smart wearables for several years now. Hence, it’s just about refining the garments and getting them ready for mass production, which will inevitably lead to more development in the space as well as lower prices once these types of clothes become mainstream (for example, Nike has not announced how much its products will cost but we can expect that they’ll be expensive since most other options are currently priced at $200 or more). If you’re interested in tracking your health via wearable tech, then investing in some smart clothing might be worth considering because there may come a day where it’s as common as wearing a watch or fitness tracker.