Timed perfectly to the start of the US Open, fashion label Ralph Lauren announced it has entered the wearables game with a biometric smart shirt that will be worn by a few lucky ball boys throughout the sporting event.
The Ralph Lauren Polo Tech shirt was developed with proprietary technology from the Canadian company OMsignal. Using biometric sensors and mobile technology, the shirt collects data from the wearer's movement and direction and transmits it to the cloud, where it's plugged into a variety of algorithms to map out a set of performance-oriented biometrics. A mobile app is then used by the wearer to see visualized performance stats based on the data.
While this is a new area for Ralph Lauren, it's not the first time a luxury fashion house went down the wearable tech road (see: Diane Von Fürstenberg and Tory Burch). It's also not the first time wearables have been married with clothing for use in athletics or professional sports.
But the effort is still notable, as it represents a push by both tech and apparel providers to diversify their products to appeal to a wider range of consumers, especially those who lump wearables into the "it's just another gadget to clog up my life" category.
And it's likely we'll see more of these types of wearable implementations because of simple fact that consumers are fickle.
Just because a subset of early adopters decided to give wearable devices a shot, there's a good chance that whatever smartwatch, wristband or clip-on tracker made its way into the home will eventually work its way into the drawer of miscellaneous clutter inevitably found in every household.
So for those tech companies determined to make wearables relevant for every day of the week, the race to figure out the most practical form factor has begun to bleed into the realm of clothing, or the aptly named field of "fashion tech."
According to Ralph Lauren, the tech shirt is just the start of the brand's planned expansion into the space.
"Our vision is that this will transcend sports to help us at every age and in every aspect of life," said David Lauren, son of Ralph and the EVP of advertising, marketing and corporate communications for the Ralph Lauren label. "Reaching far beyond just the needs of elite athletes, Polo Tech will offer innovative technology for all ages and lifestyles to promote general wellness and quality of life."