Ralph Lauren Corp. unveiled a polo shirt on the first day of the US Open that featuring biometric sensor technology developed by the Canadian firm OMSignal, which began shipping its Biometric Smartwear compression gear earlier this year.
In June, OMSignal announced its would use $10 million in new equity funding to bring the technology, now marketed primarily to elite athletes and athletic teams, to the broader fashion and active wear markets.
“Smart clothing will become a pervasive and normal aspect of consumers' lives,” OMSignal Co-founder and CEO Stephane Marceau said at the time. “Following the recent launch of our Biometric Smartwear collection, we are continuing to receive orders from all over the world, developing new designs and working with top partners to bring our technology to an even wider consumer base. This new funding as well as BVP's track record in taking disruptive technologies to the masses will further help OMsignal in achieving its company intent at scale and to continue to drive the next evolution of wearable technology.”
Ralph Lauren described its its Polo Tech shirt as “an innovative new product from a fashion brand that merges biometrics into active lifestyle apparel, marking a revolution in advanced technology designed to improve general wellness and increase personal fitness.”
The Ralph Lauren Polo Tech shirt features sensors knitted into the core of the product to read biological and physiological information. With Ralph Lauren’s leadership in the design community, the compression shirt also has a sleek look in black with a signature yellow Polo Player logo. The second-skin fit enhances comfort and agility.
As the official outfitter of the two-week U.S. Tennis Association tournament, Ralph 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.
“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. “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.”
Lauren sees a place for the Polo Tech shirt in everyday life.
“Our vision is that this will transcend sports to help us at every age and in every aspect of life,” David Lauren said. “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.”
With OMsignal technology, which was developed by a team with expertise in neuroscience, sports medicine and engineering, sensors in the shirt deliver a wide variety of physiological data through seamless apparel directly to the users via an app on their smartphone.
“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.
The debut at the US Open marks the first time a global sporting event is being used as a platform to launch a collection of wearable products.