Lookin’ Smart

New smart clothing blurs the line between fashion and tech

It’s only fitting that a generation of multi-hyphenates would expect nothing less from their clothing. Wearable technology has seen a rapid evolution since it first emerged onto the market, with health-tracking wristbands paving the way for innovations like fitness shirts. The latest crop infuses fun and personalized elements, suggesting that when it comes to wearables, health alone is old news.

72414-1Smart Hoodie: Grad students in New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program have produced the Smart Hoodie, a sweatshirt with an interwoven GSM radio that can respond to different gestures. Inventors Alina Balean and Rucha Patwardhan incorporated a cellular-equipped Arduino board that allows the user to send messages through discreet movements--for example, covering your head to send a text, or rolling up a sleeve to post on Facebook. While practical implications like washing and drying the garment have not yet been addressed, the creation could open the door for more wearable technology with discreet design and functionality.

72414-2Intel Smart Shirt: At the Code Conference this May, Intel revealed a smart jersey made with conductive fibers and connected sensors that track the wearer’s heart rate. Designed with cyclists in mind, Intel created the shirt with AIQ, a Taiwanese company that specializes in merging electronics and textiles. The garment uses Intel’s Edison development board to stream EKG information over Bluetooth and WiFi, and for convenience, the electronic component lives in a separate box that can be easily unplugged for laundry purposes. Not just for Millennials and Gen Xers in their prime, the shirt also has potential to help monitor the safety of children and seniors.

72414-3OMSignal: Like Intel, Montreal-based OMSignal has created a biometric smartwear shirt equipped with sensors that capture and relay vital information to the wearer, such as breathing and heart rates. It also monitors body movements, transmitting the information to an iPhone app that measures steps walked, calories burned, and energy levels, so the user can manage their personal wellbeing goals and stress levels. Going a step further, the app allows users to compete with one another, thus gamifying the experience.