There's a pause in the tennis match, and a ball boy scurries onto the court, retrieves a ball and snaps back into a crouch near the line judge. The moment may look like an ordinary scene at the U.S. Open — one of the most well-known tennis competitions in the world — but it's actually showcasing a new generation in wearable technology.
The form-fitting nylon shirts worn by the ball boys are woven with silver-coated thread gathering information about heart rate, stress levels and more — and they're wirelessly transmitting that information to smartphone apps and computer screens. It may seem like a far-fetched scenario reserved for elite athletes, but this technology is available to the masses, too [source: La Ferla].
Just think: This could mean your next shirt might help you reach your weight-loss goals. This new segment of wearable technology includes clothing with integrated sensors that transmit real-time information about the wearer — you. The sensors range from coated threads woven into the fabric to chips sewn into the garments that can monitor everything from your breathing patterns to activity levels. In the future, wearable technology could even potentially monitor your vital signs and automatically transmit information to your doctor as needed [source: Wearable Devices].
But will a high-tech shirt really help you lose weight? Perhaps. By sporting "biometric smartwear," you can rely on the embedded sensors in your shirt to know whether you've met your fitness goals. For example, if you've set a goal of 12,000 steps a day, your shirt will let you know — with a quick glance at the information it's transmitting via Bluetooth to an app on your smartphone — whether you're meeting that goal. If not, you can take steps (see what we did there?) to course-correct and add more activity to your day. What's more, the technology built into your smart shirt can track calories, just like fitness trackers worn on the wrist or waistband [source: Graham].
Tracking calories helps keep you accountable to your weight loss goals. A study of 1,685 overweight or obese people found that when they recorded what they ate for six months and paired that information with regular workouts, they lost weight. And, the more often they recorded their calories, the more weight they lost — about twice as much as participants who tracked their calorie intake less often [source: Hitti].
So it seems a shirt can help you lose weight — as long as it's equipped with smart technology that helps you track your activity levels and calorie intake and motivates you to get up and get moving.
- Graham, Jefferson. "The Latest in Wearable Tech: Smart Shirts." USA Today. May 8, 2014. (April 4, 2015) http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/2014/05/08/the-latest-in-wearable-tech-smart-shirts/8823483/
- Hitti, Miranda. "Keeping Food Diary Helps Lose Weight." WebMD. July 8, 2008. (April 4, 2015) http://www.webmd.com/diet/20080708/keeping-food-diary-helps-lose-weight
- La Ferla, Ruth. "Is the Player Nervous? Just Ask His Shirt." The New York Times. Aug. 22, 2014. (April 4, 2015) http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/fashion/at-us-open-ralph-lauren-to-introduce-wearable-technology.html
- Wearable Devices. "Introduction to Wearable Technology." (April 4, 2015) http://www.wearabledevices.com/what-is-a-wearable-device/