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Ralph Lauren debuts iOS-connected fitness & health tracking Polo Tech t-shirt

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Legendary fashion house Ralph Lauren is making a big splash in the wearable devices market this week, as a number of ball boys and one player at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships are outfitted with new, iOS-connected nylon shirts that track health and fitness data.




Declaring itself the "first luxury lifestyle brand" to get into the smart apparel market, Ralph Lauren is testing its new "Polo Tech" shirt at the U.S. Open. The Ralph Lauren Polo Tech features sensors knitted into the t-shirt's core, allowing it to read biological and physiological information.

Fashion is of course a key focus for the Flushing, N.Y.-based company, which has made the Polo Tech in "sleek black" with a signature yellow Polo Player logo. The company says the shirt's tight "second-skin fit" helps to enhance both comfort and agility.




"Ralph Lauren continues to be at the cutting edge of fashion and culture," said David Lauren, senior vice president of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations. "Our goal is to create and reflect the ultimate lifestyle, and we believe that a healthy and active life is an essential part of that. Ralph Lauren is excited to help lead the industry in wearable technology in this ever-evolving, modern world."

The new smart shirt was developed in partnership with OMsignal, which publicly unveiled its activity tracking shirt technology in May of this year. The Canadian company has a team of experts in neuroscience, sports medicine and engineering who developed the shirts, which connect to smartphones like Apple's iPhone to allow users to get a readout of data.




The shirts are interwoven with a set of sensors that track heart rate, breathing rate, breathing depth, activity intensity, steps walked, calories burned, and heart rate variability. Data is transmitted from the shirts' sensors to a small "black box" that users are asked to clip onto their shirt, which in turn relays the information to a companion iOS app via a Bluetooth 4.0 signal.

OMsignal said in May that its black box is good for up to 30 hours of activity tracking between recharges. The shirts themselves are not powered, and they are machine washable -- though the black box is merely "water resistant" and will deflect sweat and light rain, though it should not be worn while swimming.




A number of ball boys wearing the new shirts will be joined by Marcos Giron, the No. 1 singles player in the Intecollegiate Tennis Association, who will be playing in his first Grand Slam. Giron will be wearing the Polo Tech during practices, allowing him to track biometrics and make adjustments in real time to his play, form and breathing.

Ralph Lauren sees its new shirt going beyond fitness and athletes and becoming of value to people in everyday life. The final product, which the company expects to launch next year, will focus on users of all ages to "promote general wellness and quality of life," Lauren said.

The company says that the debut of the new Polo Tech at the U.S. Open is the first time a global sporting event is being used to launch a collection of wearable products.

"It was clear from our very first meeting that Ralph Lauren had clarity of mind about the future of fashion tech," said St?phane Marceau, CEO of OMsignal. "Its legendary Polo brand and unparalleled design and merchandising capabilities make Ralph Lauren a natural partner to bring smart clothing technology into everyday lives."

post #2 of 26
I already by Polo gear so in interested to try this out.
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post #3 of 26

I certainly wouldn't want to be wearing a tight black nylon shirt in sweltering heat for a grueling 5 hour match in the midday sun. 

 

Players with apparel sponsors aren't going to be wearing Polo shirts unless Polo is their sponsor.

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post #4 of 26

A tight, nylon polo shirt is not my idea of luxury or style, regardless of any association with iOS. Like most modern sports clothing these days, they look utterly naff and garish.

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post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I certainly wouldn't want to be wearing a tight black nylon shirt in sweltering heat for a grueling 5 hour match in the midday sun. 

Players with apparel sponsors aren't going to be wearing Polo shirts unless Polo is their sponsor.
I wouldn't wear a black one but I'd wear a white one for sure.
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post #6 of 26

Well, I'm boycotting...

at least, until the ball girls

start wearing them like that.

post #7 of 26

Nike has tons of shirts that look like this one. I have a drawer packed full of them. I have muscle both on and off the camera. 

post #8 of 26
I would like know how much they cost. How long is the warranty?
post #9 of 26

AI staff??? Well if this isn't the perfect example of imbedded advertising, nothing is. The so-called article just doesn't pass the smell test. It seems more a RL ad.

post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljocampo View Post

AI staff??? Well if this isn't the perfect example of imbedded advertising, nothing is. The so-called article just doesn't pass the smell test. It seems more a RL ad.
You think RL's target audience for this product are technophiles like the readers on this site?
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post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljocampo View Post

AI staff??? Well if this isn't the perfect example of imbedded advertising, nothing is. The so-called article just doesn't pass the smell test. It seems more a RL ad.

We don't do paid articles. We covered this because it's interesting. Staff reports are usually filed when the article is based on info from a press release and little else. It's a standard practice.
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

I certainly wouldn't want to be wearing a tight black nylon shirt in sweltering heat for a grueling 5 hour match in the midday sun. 

 

It depends. I have had white and black team kits for bike racing. The outer surface of a black jersey does indeed get warmer, but it is also an insulating layer, so not all of that energy goes to the skin. Black provides much better shade and absorbs more of the IR radiation from the sun, so there's a direct benefit from any heat that doesn't make it to your skin. Once you start sweating, black has an advantage because evaporation happens at a more rapid rate since the exterior is hotter, and this speeds cooling on the surface of your skin.

 

That said, the advantages of white are obvious, but for intense exercise with a lot of position change (continuous airflow) I think it's a wash. I'm comfortable in 100F+ full-sun afternoon races in Austin, TX in either color, and wouldn't think twice about color selection based on my experience. I've seen no measured power falloff as a result of either color.

 

For reference, I'm talking about races with an average burn rate of 300-350W, which means that I need to shed 900-1050W of generated heat (humans are roughly 25% efficient). Again, I'm comfortable with this burn rate in any color.

 

Regarding the technology, I like the innovation of using the shirt for measurement. That's a really good idea, and major revisions can take place just with firmware. The shirt fabric should last several seasons (assuming you rotate through four-five of them). 

post #13 of 26
"black has an advantage because evaporation happens at a more rapid rate since the exterior is hotter, and this speeds cooling on the surface of your skin."
Actually wearing wicking material increases core temp, doesn't lower it, as skin evap is where cooling takes place and wicking reduces skin cooling effect. Still interested for data and ore-ordered Athos pants/top nd hope it provides promises. Asked rep and 30 day return if it doesn't.
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
 

 

It depends. I have had white and black team kits for bike racing. The outer surface of a black jersey does indeed get warmer, but it is also an insulating layer, so not all of that energy goes to the skin. Black provides much better shade and absorbs more of the IR radiation from the sun, so there's a direct benefit from any heat that doesn't make it to your skin. Once you start sweating, black has an advantage because evaporation happens at a more rapid rate since the exterior is hotter, and this speeds cooling on the surface of your skin.

 

That said, the advantages of white are obvious, but for intense exercise with a lot of position change (continuous airflow) I think it's a wash. I'm comfortable in 100F+ full-sun afternoon races in Austin, TX in either color, and wouldn't think twice about color selection based on my experience. I've seen no measured power falloff as a result of either color.

 

For reference, I'm talking about races with an average burn rate of 300-350W, which means that I need to shed 900-1050W of generated heat (humans are roughly 25% efficient). Again, I'm comfortable with this burn rate in any color.

 

Regarding the technology, I like the innovation of using the shirt for measurement. That's a really good idea, and major revisions can take place just with firmware. The shirt fabric should last several seasons (assuming you rotate through four-five of them). 


Black absorbs the heat, white reflects it away so it is not taken in by YOU or the shirt.   A tight WHITE moisture wicking shirt is the best. 

post #15 of 26
a smart shirt? never thought I'd see it

I guess the smart toaster people joke about isn't far away.
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeltsBear View Post


Black absorbs the heat, white reflects it away so it is not taken in by YOU or the shirt.   A tight WHITE moisture wicking shirt is the best. 
Technically you may be right (I am not sure), but I do know that more people look good in black body hugging Lycra, than white. I would never wear such a shirt so for me, black is better.
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by alcstarheel View Post

I wouldn't wear a black one but I'd wear a white one for sure.

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post #18 of 26
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Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

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post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by pacificfilm View Post

Actually wearing wicking material increases core temp, doesn't lower it, as skin evap is where cooling takes place and wicking reduces skin cooling effect. 

 

That would be true if the sweat didn't form a film and prevent evaporation at the skin anyway. 1mm of wicking material, when saturated with sweat, is better for evaporative cooling than skin covered and dripping from sweat. While it's true that moisture evaporation on the outer surface of the fabric doesn't directly cool as well as it would right next to the skin, that action still keeps the skin from having a film of fluid over it. The air going through the knit provides the evaporation at the skin.

 

With a black garment, that evaporation happens in the shade. A good cycling jersey has the knit oriented 90-degrees to the skin for the first 0.5mm, then parallel to it on the outer surface. So even if the outer surface of a black jersey gets heated from the sun, only about 15% of the surface area of the skin is touching the jersey (even with a really tight fit). That provides an air gap next to the skin to insulate from the heat, as well as creating an effective wick. These knits are patented and they are why good cycling jerseys cost $110.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeltsBear View Post
 


Black absorbs the heat, white reflects it away so it is not taken in by YOU or the shirt.   A tight WHITE moisture wicking shirt is the best. 

 

Honestly, it's a wash. In the first couple minutes (during warmup), the black jersey is a bit hotter. Once it's saturated with sweat, the cooling system is up and running, and the shade benefit offsets the garment temp.

 

I've tested it for myself. Have you? I've done threshold power tests at 100F/full sun in Austin TX. Adjacent weeks. No performance difference for me, at all. I'm also a big rider (6'4" at 187 lbs), so I generate a lot of heat (again, with a 350W power test, I'm having to cool a 1050W motor).

post #20 of 26
I opened the link just to look at the pictures.
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
 

 

That would be true if the sweat didn't form a film and prevent evaporation at the skin anyway. 1mm of wicking material, when saturated with sweat, is better for evaporative cooling than skin covered and dripping from sweat. While it's true that moisture evaporation on the outer surface of the fabric doesn't directly cool as well as it would right next to the skin, that action still keeps the skin from having a film of fluid over it. The air going through the knit provides the evaporation at the skin.

 

With a black garment, that evaporation happens in the shade. A good cycling jersey has the knit oriented 90-degrees to the skin for the first 0.5mm, then parallel to it on the outer surface. So even if the outer surface of a black jersey gets heated from the sun, only about 15% of the surface area of the skin is touching the jersey (even with a really tight fit). That provides an air gap next to the skin to insulate from the heat, as well as creating an effective wick. These knits are patented and they are why good cycling jerseys cost $110.

 

 

Honestly, it's a wash. In the first couple minutes (during warmup), the black jersey is a bit hotter. Once it's saturated with sweat, the cooling system is up and running, and the shade benefit offsets the garment temp.

 

I've tested it for myself. Have you? I've done threshold power tests at 100F/full sun in Austin TX. Adjacent weeks. No performance difference for me, at all. I'm also a big rider (6'4" at 187 lbs), so I generate a lot of heat (again, with a 350W power test, I'm having to cool a 1050W motor).

 

one would think evolution would hint to what is optimal in heat and sun (Look at indigenous people's from in the tropics or high plains).   White skin is NOT designed for optimal heat dissipation... it's designed for 'maximum' heat/UV absorption (because outside of the tropics, we needed all the vitamin D and external heat possible)

 

What works for a building that has no evaporative cooling and high connectivity (white roof, white bus on top of UPS truck), isn't necessarily a great plan for human body with sweat glands.

 

 

On topic a bit, and within waterrocket's wheel house. 

 

I found the most interesting part of the Tour de France was when they started sending the bio telemetry of the competitors to the networks.  I'm not a competitive cyclist, but sneaky fit for my frame [6'4' 240, a cross country runner in a Linebacker's body]. I'm a clydesdale... a 'Fred' at best, and I monitor my BP vs Watt output a lot, and self monitor my motor functions [when does my vision start to fade, shifting falter... time to back off, get some O2 and sugar to the brain].  So it was more amazing to see their  bio-stats real time, and comparing them to mine, as otherwise, I'm just thinking these guys are just able to tolerate 90MHR efforts... no... they're cruising up these hills with HRs barely pushing 150 (150 is a 'slow jog' heart rate for the average 30yo guy)

 

I'm saying that that sort of data, streamed real time to fans is more 'inside baseball' [pardon the wrong sport euphemism ] stuff that lock fans to their iPads while watching a match.  Think of the commentary in the booth ("His BP is through the roof, and his O2 is dropping,  I can't see him getting through the set without slowing down lest he starts making a bunch of unforced errors, or blowing up at the Chair")

post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

I'm just thinking these guys are just able to tolerate 90MHR efforts... no... they're cruising up these hills with HRs barely pushing 150 (150 is a 'slow jog' heart rate for the average 30yo guy)

 

Lemond said "It never gets easier, you just go faster," and that applies here for sure. I agree that it's amazing to see those stats. The thing is that the guys at the front of a TdF climb aren't suffering any more than I do on a climb (and I suck at it). Their fitness is so high with such low mass, that they "just go faster."

 

When I first started training with a power meter, I was perplexed the first couple threshold tests I did because I was sure I'd never be able to do another effort like that again. Sure enough, 2 or 3 months later I'd shatter my record, and it felt the same. Crazy stuff.

 

These shirts are very intriguing as we get to a place where technology can very accurately measure output in cycling and rowing, but has a very tough time with running, soccer, basketball, etc. It would be great for a coach to look at some data and know that some of his basketball players need to stop doing two-a-days because they are overtraining. Gotta figure out how to accurately measure these workouts, then convince everyone that the workouts can be accurately measured. This shirt is a big step in the right direction, far beyond those stupid overblown pedometers everyone is wearing.

post #23 of 26

Wait long enough and you find a good association for any bit of quirky trivia... ...in this case from Donovan's weirdest departure...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voGckb0gAfc  :D 

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post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpics View Post
 

Wait long enough and you find a good association for any bit of quirky trivia... ...in this case from Donovan's weirdest departure...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voGckb0gAfc  :D 

Why yer jes spoutin' a bunch of Barabajagal!  ;-)

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post #25 of 26

When did the Ralph Lauren Polo logo get so big?  It used to be maybe a couple inches tall, now it's comically huge

 

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post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post
 

When did the Ralph Lauren Polo logo get so big?  It used to be maybe a couple inches tall, now it's comically huge

 

 

It's kind of the way of things these days O_o

 

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