Smart Shirts Debut at US Open

Move over smart watches. At the recent U.S. Open, designer Ralph Lauren served up the latest in stylish, sporty wearable tech, outfitting ball retrievers in Polo Tech tops that track biometrics like heart rate, breathing, and stress levels. “Everyone is exploring wearable tech watches and headbands and looking at cool sneakers,” company executive David Lauren told the New York Times. “We skipped to what we thought was new, which is apparel. We live in our clothes.” 

The body-hugging black nylon shirt with a large yellow Ralph Lauren pony on the left chest has silver-coated thread woven into the fiber, making the shirt itself a sensor. Using proprietary technology from Canadian-based smartwear company OMsignal, the shirt will collect and store physiological and biological data, then transmit it via the cloud to a dashboard display on a smartphone or computer. Ralph Lauren is calling the garment the first wearable tech apparel to be offered by a mainstream fashion label, and touts its streamlined, wireless design. “There’s nothing clunky you have to strap on. You’re just putting on a shirt,” Lauren said.

The Polo Tech shirt was also tested out by tennis player Marcos Giron, who wore the shirt during practices to track his biometrics and make real-time adjustments to his play, form, and breathing, according to a press release from Ralph Lauren, the official outfitter of the two-week-long U.S. Open tournament. “The fact that Ralph Lauren chose the U.S. Open as the venue to unveil its Polo Tech shirt enhances our tradition as a showcase for innovation,” said David Brewer, tournament director.

Next year, Ralph Lauren plans to expand its wearable tech offerings to the general public, introducing both the athletic Polo Tech shirts and tech-enhanced classic dress shirts at its retail stores. The company has not yet revealed how the garments will be priced.