Martin Matak, founder and president of wearable technology company VERT, believes connected clothing is the future of his industry. That’s why VERT recently partnered with compression apparel brand, Zensah.
The eventual goal is to create apparel that measures performance and biometrics, as a matter of course, Matak explains: “It needs to be simple and seamless and connect without you really thinking that it’s connected. There are a lot of products where it’s kind of an add-on, but it needs to be a part of your normal routine.”
VERT is taking a phased approach to reach this point, as it slowly incorporates its jump-monitoring tech into Zensah apparel. The first phase, Matak says, is slipping VERT’s slim, thumb-drive sized inertial measurement unit (IMU) into a special pocket built into the compression apparel, whether a sock, shirt, sleeve or something else. “Compression apparel is a perfect fit for us because it’s one of those things athletes are already wearing,” Matak adds.
The second phase will likely involve adding more tracking capabilities. Right now, VERT’s product reports numerous athletic measurements, including total Gs, high/low intensity count, surges per minute, surge count, high acceleration and average peak acceleration. The measurements are sent to VERT software, which can be monitored in real time by coaches and afterwards by the athletes themselves. The technology is currently being used by the USA Volleyball National teams, along with a number of college volleyball and basketball programs across the country. In the future, Matak says, VERT could add more biometric sensors to its product, perhaps things like skin temperature or heart activity.
The third phase would be to weave the VERT tracker directly into the fabric, as components get “cheaper, smarter and more flexible,” Matak says. “Then, it’s kind of just your clothing.” He adds that the technology is almost there, but it will still be another decade or so before smart, connected apparel becomes feasible and widespread.