Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Ralph Lauren launches smart polo shirt that monitors wearer’s health

Steve Rogerson
August 25, 2015
Luxury clothes maker Ralph Lauren's PoloTech smart-shirt makes its retail debut this week. The shirt is said to combine sleek, modern style with real-time biometric technology.
This fitness shirt and the simultaneous introduction of an adaptive workout app uses detailed data to tailor individual training. The introduction of the shirt coincides with the inaugural collection of an athletic-focused, broader Polo Sport brand.
“The Ralph Lauren PoloTech shirt will change the way you look at fashion and apparel,” said David Lauren, executive vice president. “It will give you knowledge you can use to lead a better life. This is a bridge between technology, fitness and style that approaches wellness and well-being in comprehensive and complementary ways. It will touch many parts of your life.”
The smart shirt incorporates sensory receivers with a dynamic fitness application in a fashion-forward design emblematic of Polo Sport. Silver fibres woven directly into the fabric give the accurate readings and track a range of stats, including heart rate and variability, breathing depth and recovery, intensity of movement, energy output and stress levels, steps taken and calories burned.
The box that collects and processes the information uses five connectors and contains a 3D accelerometer that captures intensity of movement based on three g-force measurements.
The shirt has a second-skin fabric composition, and the sensors in the fabric stream information directly to an iPhone, iWatch or iPod Touch. The app reacts based on that immediate data. The app is compatible with the Apple iPod Touch fifth generation and above, or iPhone with iOS 8 and up.
The bio- and psychometrics inform a series of adaptive video workouts, during which performance in one exercise determines the intensity of the next, resulting in more than 10,000 possible combinations. The app also provides live fitness monitoring, reporting and a push rate, rating exertion, power and effort.
There are three categories of workouts, customised for users in real time:

  • Cardio: works core, burns fat and amps power;
  • Strength: puts focus on chest, back, legs, shoulders, triceps and biceps; and
  • Agility: designed to increase quickness, precision and speed.
The technology was put to the test at the 2014 US Open, where Ralph Lauren was the official outfitter. A top-ranked college player making his debut at the premier tennis event as well as an elite squad of official ball persons were measured for relative fitness, measuring heart rate, recovery, time spent in aerobic and anaerobic zones, calories and distance.
The smart shirt was developed in partnership with proprietary technology from Canadian-based OMSignal, the team from which includes experts in neuroscience, sports medicine and engineering. The PoloTech app workout routines were devised by Galvanized, the health and fitness media company founded by David Zinczenko.
"The PoloTech shirt points the way to the next generation of activewear,” said Stéphane Marceau, CEO of OMSignal. “Going beyond the digital-only experience of today’s fitness platforms, it is the first product to bring advanced apparel technology and digital fitness technology together, into one smart, connected apparel product. OMSignal’s partnership with Ralph Lauren is representative of the synergy that exists between the two brands, from their marquee leadership in fashion, to our customisable smart apparel platform.”
In addition to the PoloTech shirt, the company has created directional high-tech initiatives as an early pioneer in e-commerce, creation of holographic runway shows, development of interactive and shoppable retail windows, and introduction of the RL Children’s Virtual Storybook. Recently, the company extended its authority in technology to the luxury world, with its handcrafted Ricky Bag with Light.