Co.Design

Forget Fitbits: This T-Shirt Embeds Fitness Sensors Into Its Fabric

Wearable tech gets even more wearable with this smart sensing t-shirt designed for athletes and coaches.

One of the latest and most promising designs in the movement to make wearable tech actually wearable is the Smart Sensing Digital Shirt--called the D-Shirt for short--a washable, lightweight T-shirt that packs a GPS, heart-rate monitor, accelerometer, altimeter, and more into its fabric.

The D-Shirt’s smart material was created by French company Cityzen Sciences, a consortium of companies involved in digital sensing technology and sports. The smart sensing won the Consumer Electronics Show's 2014 Inclusive Innovation in Everyday Health award in January.

The fabric is woven with micro-sensors that send data to a small detachable transmitter on the back of the shirt. This in turn sends the data to a smartphone via Bluetooth. At the end of each session, the app gives you a summary of your route, time, speed, heart rate, and calories burned. It lets you monitor your workout in real time if you take your phone with you, or lets you see your stats once you get home if you leave your phone behind. Developers are working on heat, respiration, and perspiration sensors as well.

Showcased at the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona last month, the D-shirt was developed with athletes and coaches in mind, in collaboration with major French sports teams. "On the field, a coach could tell when a member of the team has been running over capacity and put in a fresh player,” Gilbert Reveillon, managing director at Cityzen, told AFP.

While there are several smart shirt designs on the market, such as the hWear model from HealthWatch Limited and the LOBIN e-textiles, many of the available models were designed for health care settings--they replace holter monitors and act as wireless heart monitors. But Cityzen’s D-shirt, which combines all the available smart sensing technologies into one garment, was designed with runners, athletes, and coaches in mind. Now that wearable tech is getting better looking, the next challenge is designing a fitness tracking garment that miraculously makes working out actually fun.

The shirt will be available in stores, first in France and the U.K., later this year.

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