When the Sweat Dries
The Athos sensors are simply instruments for measuring your movements. To tie the system together and process that sensor data, you also need what Athos calls its core unit. The $199 core unit is the system hub, a 2.5-inch (6.4-centimeter) long oval plastic doodad that slips into a slender pouch on either the shirt or shorts.
The core is what contains the accelerometers, as well as a gyroscope, which picks up movements (such as rotation) that the accelerometers can't. It's also outfitted with a Bluetooth adapter that lets it transmit data to your smartphone. The rechargeable battery lasts about 10 hours, which for most people is long enough for a week of workouts (or more if you decide to start slacking off).
Athos is by no means the only high-tech fitness clothing on the market. The Move Pilates tank top uses tiny actuators to nudge your body into the proper form during a Pilates workout. Hexoskin is one of the most established and advanced garments around, and it tracks more metrics, such as breathing volume, cadence, VO2 max, heart-rate variability and a whole lot more — and at around $400, it costs more, too. Bigger companies are also getting into the game. Ralph Lauren sells a shirt that detects heart and breathing rate, among other factors.
Almost all of the current generation of smart fabrics, including the Athos line, are machine washable. That's a key condition for many people, because consumers don't want to alter their laundry schedule just for one piece of clothing.
It's also important to note that the Athos garments are in line with clothing trends. They look like most contemporary compression outfits, albeit ones with a few extras to accommodate sensors and the core unit.
The Athos system is an example of just how far fitness trackers have come, and a sign of just how much more sophisticated they'll become in the future. If the Athos inventors have their way, personal trainers could see their job security waning as digital assistants take over the heavy lifting in monitoring and advising your workouts.
Author's Note: How Athos Clothing Works
I'm not a gym rat, and I don't see the appeal of maximizing every bench press and squat. I do, however, occasionally wind up with nagging injuries, and I worry about favoring sore muscles at the expense of healthy ones — overcompensating for a sore spot can lead to all sorts of new problems. Using tracking devices to monitor muscle use could keep me mindful of my body's limitations and prevent new injuries, leading to a better, happier body. For anyone who works out regularly, that's a smart investment that can actually benefit your quality of life as a whole.
More Great Links
- Athos. "Technology." (April 3, 2015) http://www.liveathos.com/apparel/technology
- Buhr, Sarah. "Gearing Up for the Future of Connected Workout Clothes With Athos." TechCrunch. Dec. 4, 2014. (April 3, 2015) http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/04/gearing-up-for-the-future-of-connected-workout-clothes-with-athos/
- Duffy, Jill. "Hands On: Athos Smart Workout Pants." PC Mag. Sept. 20, 2014. (April 3, 2015) http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2468898,00.asp
- Good Morning America. "The Hottest Tech-Savvy Workout Wear for 2015." ABC News. Jan. 2, 2015. (April 3, 2015) http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/hottest-tech-savvy-workout-wear-2015/story?id=27961053
- Goode, Lauren. "Are 'smart' clothes the wearables of the future?" Recode. March 16, 2015. (April 3, 2015) http://recode.net/2015/03/16/are-smart-clothes-the-wearables-of-the-future/
- Ha, Anthony. "Hitting the Gym with Smart Apparel Startup Athos." TechCrunch. March 17, 2015. (April 3, 2015) http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/17/hitting-the-gym-with-smart-apparel-startup-athos/
- Kaplan, Jeremy. "A Smartass to Match Your Smartphone and Smartwatch." Digital Trends. Sept. 18, 2014. (April 3, 2015) http://www.digitaltrends.com/wearables/athos-wearable-tech-smart-compression-sports/
- Moore, Elizabeth Armstrong. "Athos: Computers Should Be in Your Workout Wear, Not Just Your Pockets." CNET. Dec. 5, 2013. (April 3, 2015) http://www.cnet.com/news/athos-computers-should-be-in-your-workout-wear-not-just-your-pockets/
- Popper, Ben. "These High-Tech Gym Clothes Look Inside Your Muscles to Analyze Your Workout." The Verge. Aug. 12, 2014. (April 3, 2015) http://www.theverge.com/2014/8/12/5992297/athos-fitness-wearable-electromyography
- Rao, Leena. "Backed with $3.5M from Social+Capital, Athos is Creating Connected Workout Clothing that Tracks Your Muscle Output and More." TechCrunch. Nov. 26, 2013. (April 3, 2015) http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/26/backed-with-3-5m-from-socialcapital-athos-is-creating-high-powered-connected-workout-clothing-that-tracks-your-muscle-output-and-more/
- VanHemert, Kyle. "Coming Soon: Workout Gear that Monitors Your Muscles." Wired. Dec. 4, 2013. (April 3, 2015) http://www.wired.com/2013/12/these-smart-gym-clothes-are-the-future-of-wearable-computers/