Techno textile: smart T-shirts and socks are the harbinger of the next-generation wearables

1876c47Gadgets like the Fitbit and Fuelband are great fun, and your smartwatch or cool glasses will also make you look like a highly sophisticated techno-fan. However, the next generation of wearable technology really lives up to the monicker of “wearables”: smart T-shirts and socks stuffed full of sensors.

Now that the market for activity trackers is truly gaining critical mass and Samsung is on the verge of initiating a new wave of smartwatches, this would be a good time to gaze into the future. As although the current gadgets are still prominently present, we are seeing a trend to make technology more human and ambient.

Two typical examples can be found in the ‘underground’ of the Quantified Self movement, in which self-knowledge through personal measurements are core elements. The Hexoskin T-shirts and Sensoria socks are examples of the ultimate wearables: sensors integrated in our clothes.

The Hexoskin T-shirt is an all-in-one tracker for fanatical sports buffs. The shirt is able to communicate with your smartphone via Bluetooth. It not only measures your pulse, but also analyzes your overall performance. By analyzing the pattern of your heartbeat and combining this information with measurements of your breathing patterns and lung capacity, the shirt is able to tell you how you can improve your performance.

Hexoskin is the only product that can give you data about your breathing volume during sports performance without wearing a mask. – Jean-François Roy, CTO of HexoSkin.

Once you have managed to get yourself into shape, you may want to dig a little deeper and analyze your movement pattern. That’s where the Sensoria sock comes in. This smart sock not only counts your steps, but also analyzes the pressure you exert on your feet. This allows the device to map out the intensity of your movement.

The sock also measures your cadence and can thus identify potential injuries. The matching app will tell you what you need to do to stick to your ideal walking pattern.

In the near future, most pieces of clothing will come with embedded microelectronics and sensors. Our vision is that “The Garment is the Computer.”

The Hexoskin T-shirt will have a price tag of $175, but it will actually have to be used in combination with a complete kit, which will retail at a ridiculously hefty $745.

Last week, Sensoria managed to successfully complete its crowd-funding campaign. It will bring its first models to market in March of next year. Expectations are that the smart sock will cost $119, but then you never know how effective (and cheap) the technology can become in the period up to its launch.