Smart Shirts Open Up New Possibilities For Tracking Fitness

There’s no better time to be a health-obsessed and technologically-connected athlete. Health monitoring and fitness-tracking technology is absolutely booming right now, with the introduction of specialized wristbands, watches, digital basketballs and other equipment. Now, they’re hanging up in your closet between your button-ups and your sweaters. Here are five of the coolest digital shirts that promise to collect physical data beyond the reach of most other wearable tech.

OMsignal biometric shirt
The newest contender in this relatively new field is OMsignal’s new biometric shirt. The moisture-wicking compression shirt is kitted out with an electronic data module that streams data wirelessly straight to a companion app in real time. Measurements taken include everything from calories burned, to how deeply you’re breathing, and (impressively) even the electrical activity of your heart, not unlike an ECG test. This extra insight is especially useful for athletes tracking how much effort they’re putting in while they exercise and how they recover afterwards. The super-soft fabric bucks bad odours, and can be washed.


Sensoria Fitness Smart Shirt
Sensoria has a few “smart” wearables under its belt, including a sports bras and a pair of digital socks. Its fitness T-shirt is likewise made of an elastic material with textile sensors that gathers heart rate, force and pressure data. Snapping a weatherproof Sensoria sensor to the front of your shirt enables monitoring, but you can even use a Garmin or Polar heart rate monitor you may already own. Although the data set seems relatively basic (calories burned, step count, distance, pace, etc.), you can use one or all of the garments Sensoria to get a full-body readout through the companion fitness app.


A slight departure from the other shirts more concerned with breathing and heart rate, the Athos shirt tracker also measures effort, muscle balance and repetitions, making it great for weight training. A smartphone app will allow you to track (in real time) which muscles you are engaging or have engaged during your workout, and will even show you how fatigue is affecting them via a colour-coded infographic. You can use the shirt with a pair of workout shorts that will measure lower-body muscles.


Cityzen Science D-Shirt
The French are catching up, too. Cityzen Sciences is formulating a textile with kinetic sensors woven into the fabric, and is currently planning to use it with the company’s upcoming Digital Shirt, or D-Shirt for short. Along with basic fitness data, Cityzen’s Smart Sensing Fabric keeps track of feedback such as stress levels, activity intensity and heart rate. The shirt will eventually feature its own built-in GPS that adds on speed, altitude and route tracking when used with a smartphone app. Cityzen’s shirt and fabric are still in development, which may actually be a good thing—the company hopes to add a self-recharging system to the shirt before launch.


Hitoe—a new conductive fabric that’s capable of taking biometric measurements on its own without the use of electrodes—represents the possible future of health-tracking shirts. Co-developed by NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile carrier, the elastic nanofibre material will be used in a shirt that can measure heart rate and ECG information in real time; when fitted with a wireless communication unit, it can sync this data with a smartphone. It should also be washable. The company expects to launch the shirt later in 2014 alongside a new mobile phone platform.


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