The field of smart clothing, now including many compelling options that wouldn't have been possible just a few short years ago, looks poised to finally catch on for real, if not explode this year. A large number of options catering to a wide range of different functions is available now, with a few big players like Samsung and Google even getting in on the fun. Here are some of the biggest items of smart clothing poised to shake up the market as we march into 2017.
First up on the list is Google's Project Jacquard, which rests inside Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket. The jacket will feature gesture zones woven into the fabric, allowing the user to control various functions of a linked smartphone. It will be available some time in the Spring of this year. Next up is the Owlet Smart sock, already available and targeted to babies. The Owlet uses pulse oximetry to monitor a baby's vital signs and heart rate, and notifies parents of any anomalies. Neopenda takes the idea to the head with a smart hat for newborns, which is made to do two things; be incredibly affordable, and link together with other units to feed essential data to a specialized system in a hospital setting. This one is currently undergoing a trial run in Uganda, but with no word on when or if it will see wider usage. If it does, naturally, it could be one of the bigger developments in the field for the year. Polar's Team Pro Shirt, with a release date that is still to be announced, targets coaches and athletes with an exhaustive feature list and a collar-worn bundle of sensors that provides additional connectivity and information.
In the business sector, Samsung has created a suit that is packed full of NFC chips allowing various functions like payment and security to be integrated. It's available now in Korea for the equivalent of about $500, but there is no word right now on whether it will go worldwide. Hexoskin's Smart training shirt, available now, contains a number of sensors that deliver data such as heart rate and movement, and can optionally be paired up with a Bluetooth smart sensor to send the data to a number of different devices and apps. A similar product is made by OMSignal, is available now, and distinguishes itself in two ways; by telling the wearer when they've recovered enough from one workout to begin another, and by being a bra. A firm called Athos makes a range of gym clothes woven with micro-EMG sensors. These can tell a user about their current muscle activity should they be curious to know and they're currently available right now. A smart bikini from Spinali Design, also available now, tells a user when they've had enough sun. Lumo Run's smart shorts and capris bring the functionality of smart shirts into pants, along with cadence and gait tracking. Komodo Technologies' heart-sensing AIO Smart Sleeve and a new generation of Sensoria Smart Socks, both available as of this writing, round out the list. While this is by no means a massive amount of smart, connected clothing, it's a sector of the technology industry that's growing wider and wider and may very well continue to do so if these products take off and garner more widespread popularity. While some of them seem a little less practical than others, all will likely have a niche group of consumers that the products will serve a purpose for, and could very well help open up the doors for newer innovation in this particular market.