OMSignal of Montreal said it began taking orders online this month for its first collection of “Biometric Smartwear” for men, including an under-shirt, sleeveless shirt, casual T-shirt and long-sleeved shirt.
For $199, men can pick one shirt, the company’s clip-on device, apps and a cable. For $269 they can add another shirt and for $359 they can order all four shirts. OMSignal embeds a heart rate monitor strap and accelerometer into the shirts that send data to a clip-on device that calculates calories burned, physiological stress, respiration rates and balance. The clip-on device, which relays vital signs to OMSignal’s app, has a battery life of 3 to 4 days. The company said it will offer kits for women soon.
Carré Technology, also based in Montreal, began shipping kits for men and women for $399 last year under its Hexoskin brand. In additional to targeting elite athletes, it is marketing team kits trainers can use to monitor multiple athletes. Like Carré Technology, OMSignal is looking to also license its technology to apparel manufacturers.
“Our vision is to be OM inside and our technology will find its way to the consumer mass through leading, existing apparel brands,” OMSignal CEO Stephane Marceau told Sports Executive Weekly in an email last week. “We are working with our brand partners to lead marketing and distribution, including retailers.”
Jupiter Research estimates retail revenue from wearable technology a vast category that spans GoPro cameras, Google glasses, smart watches, fitness trackers and biometric clothing will grow from about $1.4 billion in 2013 to as much as $19 billion in 2018.
Marceau sees clothing as the inevitable platform for fitness monitoring.
“We've been wearing clothing all our lives,” he wrote. “It's the most natural and therefore the ultimate “wearable” medium. Over time, most apparel will become connected devices and that's the tip of the market opportunity.”
Other startup companies developing biometric clothing include Heapsylon, which sells smart socks, sport bras and shirts under the Sensoria brand. Textronics Inc., which was acquired by Adidas in 2008, has been selling a smart bra since 2006 and now sells a line of heart rate monitoring apparel under the NuMetrex brand that will work with Adidas miCoach or third-party heart rate monitors.