Ralph Lauren offers its take on Wearable Tech

by Matt Klassen on September 2, 2014

While it’s certainly not a natural segue for the men’s fashion firm, Ralph Lauren is showing that is has some good ideas of its own when it comes to the future of wearable technology. While tech giants are busy making smartwatches and fitness bands, Ralph Lauren has decided to take the industry in a different direction, merging tech and fashion in a new smart Polo shirt equipped with sensors to track activity, helping to keep people healthier while looking good at the same time.

What’s really surprising about Ralph Lauren’s new fitness tech smart shirt is not that someone finally thought of imbedding sensors into our clothes, but that it was a fashion company, not a tech or fitness company, that thought of it first (I thought that’s why Apple hired former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts to head its retail division).

But even though stepping into the world of wearable technology isn’t a natural step for Ralph Lauren the company will undoubtedly make waves, not because it is the first to unveil a smart shirt, but because it stands as the first company to bring a one key missing element to the wearable market: actual fashion.

The company partnered with tech company Msignal to develop the high tech shirt, incorporating a “black box” of sorts that includes an accelerometer and gyroscope, allowing the shirt to capture and record movement, direction, and speed. The data that the shirt records is then sent to the cloud, where it is fed through a series of algorithms, delivering information on heart rate, respirations, stress levels, and energy output to the user’s smartphone.

As John Feland, CEO and founder of Argus Insights, notes, the segue into the world of wearables was a difficult one for the fashion firm, but given that no one else has yet to bring actual tech-infused clothes to the market, the company decided to take the plunge.

“The biggest shock is that Nike did not do this first,” Feland told TechNewsWorld. “Ever since taking their Fuel Band off the market in April of this year, everyone has been waiting to see if Nike would re-enter the market with a better fitness monitoring solution.”

Further, Feland notes, Ralph Lauren’s unique position as a fashion designer allows it to bring fresh ideas to the market. “Most wearable form factors to date have been smartwatches or fitness bands,” he noted. “The design of these devices has been driven more by engineering than fashion, colliding with the users’ need to both quantify themselves and do so without feeling like Dick Tracy or the Borg. Polo’s smart shirt allows for more subtle integration of wearable technology into your daily life.”

While admittedly few may see the benefits of such a tech-infused polo shirt there’s no question that Ralph Lauren has blazed a trail here, throwing down the gauntlet to other fashion company’s like Lacoste and athletic brands like Adidas or Under Armour to see what they can do with it, as the key to the longevity of this niche market will be to convince the general public that fashion or athletics just isn’t the same without a tech-infused T-shirt.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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