Ralph Lauren's sensor-laden shirts are finally coming to the masses — provided the masses are willing to cough up $295 for a workout shirt.
At a preview event today in New York City, the lifestyle brand revealed pricing and availability for its long-in-the-works PoloTech apparel, made in collaboration with Montreal-based tech startup OmSignal. The "second-skin" fabric workout shirt has silver fibers woven directly into the fabric and a small, sensor-filled black box that snaps into the shirt near the rib cage, to track biometric stats like steps taken, heart rate, breathing depth, and energy exertion.
Ralph Lauren first showed off the biometric shirt at last year's US Open tennis tournament, using ball boys as its lab rats. One top-ranking player, Marcos Giron, wore the smart shirt during practice as well.
Since then other biometric shirts have popped up, including ones that use micro-EMG sensors to measure muscle effort, made by a Redwood City-based company called Athos. (Earlier this year I reviewed a pair of Athos pants, as did The Verge's Ben Popper.) OmSignal, the company that partnered with Ralph Lauren for the PoloTech Shirt, sells its connected compression shirts separately — although both the PoloTech shirts and OmSignal's own shirts are only available for men.
But David Lauren, executive vice president for advertising, marketing, and communications at Ralph Lauren, said in an interview that women's smart shirts are on the way. The company is working on making more casual connected apparel — such a polo shirt that could be worn all day, not just during exercise. And Lauren said a smart suit was not out of the realm of possibilities. (I just cannot even, with this level of Bluetooth-connected Americana.)
As you might expect, there's a Ralph Lauren mobile app that syncs data from the PoloTech shirt. It's iOS-only at launch and currently doesn't integrate with other third-party fitness applications.
Still, the aim with the app is to offer real-time analysis and workout suggestions based on the biometrics you're showing, which means Ralph Lauren is at least aware of one key problem with connected health and fitness devices: there are many that can track what you do, but not as many that tell you what to do next.
The PoloTech shirt goes on sale starting next Thursday, and in case you missed this earlier: it costs $295.
Check out Ben Popper's video from earlier this year, in which he gets schooled by Jermaine O'Neal while wearing smart shorts: