The best smart clothing: From biometric shirts to mood sensing dresses

The best smart clothing: From biometric shirts to mood sensing dresses

Smart fabrics and garments on sale now or hitting the shops soon
Well worn: The best smart clothing

Smart clothing is taking its first tentative baby steps in 2015 but there's already some future classics being trialled and tested.

Much more than strapping gadgets to our wrists, faces, ears and feet, smart clothing can constantly track our heart rate, monitor our emotions and even pay for our Starbucks. All without grabbing a phone or even tapping a smartwatch screen.

Here's the best tech garments we've seen so far...

Ralph Lauren Polo tech shirt

best smart clothing ralph lauren smart shirt

Ball boys and girls at the US Open in August 2014 got to track their vital signs during high profile tennis matches thanks to Ralph Lauren's biometric shirts. Sure, we'd be a bit more interested in Federer's heart rate but it's still a great example of a designer experimenting with smart clothing.

The nylon shirt is infused with conductive silver-coated fibres which act as sensors that then stream this data in real time to a smartphone. The shirt tracks distance, calories burned, heart rate, stress rate and intensity of movement. "We skipped to what we thought was new," said Ralph himself. "We live in our clothes."

In terms of availability outside Grand Slams, the Ralph Lauren website simply says 'coming soon' but you can sign up for email updates.

$TBC, ralphlauren.com

Digitsole insoles

This connected insole hit its Kickstarter target last year and is now up for pre-order. It doesn't just track calories, distance and whatnot as expected. The Digitsole also warms your feet and is controlled from your smartphone. What devilry is this, you cry. Well, the insole goes up to a max of 40 degrees C and each foot can be controlled separately via sliders in iOS and Android apps.

There's only a seven hour battery life, mind you, and charging insoles via USB doesn't sound like our idea of a good time. Still, it's a neat way to get connected feet whatever shoe you're wearing.

$199 (October 2015 release date), digitsole.com

Athos

Athos is based on expensive medical tech but designed for gym bunnies. Its range of training clothes is woven with micro-EMG sensors that detect which of your muscles are working and transfer this workout data to a smartphone via a Bluetooth core.

Muscle effort, heart rate and breathing are all tracked and the app provides insights to help you to exercise correctly and avoid injury. This could be the personal trainer in your pocket you've been waiting for.

From $199, liveathos.com

MBody Bike & Run

best smart clothing mbody bike and run

Runners and cyclists should check out these MBody shorts which show how your body - specifically your muscle activity - works. Improve your technique and minimise injuries by keeping an extra beady eye on your stats with sensors and its Mcell measurement module.

Made from an elastic compression textile, MBody wants to be a training system for cyclists with padding and flatlock seams. And unlike most examples of smart clothing, you can actually buy the next-gen shorts now.

From €349, mbody.fi

Sensoria running socks

best smart clothing

These connected socks aim to track your runs in detail, offering information on pace, distance and time as well as your running style. They can help users run with better form, which can lead to faster times and a reduced risk of injury.

The socks features three textile pressure sensors, which measure the pressure placed on the foot during running. All the number crunching is done by a unit that clips onto the top of the sock, and then the data is shown up in an app dashboard.

$199, sensoriafitness.com

Synapse smart dress

The Synapse smart dress, designed by Anouk Wipprecht, might not be exactly where smart clothing is headed but it's a fascinating demo of what the tech can do. Powered by Intel's Edison chip, the 3D printed dress measures all sorts of things with biosensors and reacts in different ways.

A proximity sensor sets off a bright array of 120W LEDs if someone gets too close, a camera on the front can capture which objects or people affected your mood and a matching headpiece tracks attention levels. Bonkers? Yes. Impressive? Very.

$TBC (Still at concept stage), anoukwipprecht.nl

B Maternity

best smart clothing

Cornell fashion design student Blake Uretsky is on to a winner with her pregnancy health tracking B Maternity line. The Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design student scooped a $30,000 scholarship from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund to get the idea off the ground.

The smart clothing can track heart rate, temperature, breathing, blood pressure and in a nod to a future where we're all tracking our own health, the app also includes a 'send to doctor' icon. Conductive silver fibre is woven into the fabrics to track the health metrics.

$TBC (Still at concept stage)

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