Workout gear has taken on a new level of importance beyond muscle compression and, lets face it, showing off those pecs or hugging the right curves for the ogglers at the gym. Smart wearables are the new tight gym shorts — something everyone checks out at least once. Now you can wear a complete outfit of smart tech and monitor everything from your minute ventilation to your location. There’s even footwear designed to help people with impaired vision that can help you get home when you’re, ah, visually impaired. The clothes themselves are almost secondary to the tech they tote, but they look as good as the standard black compression wear and slickest new accessories.
Accessories can make or break any good outfit. The Apple Watch is the hottest wearable this year, with good reason. Finally, Siri can tap you on the wrist to remind you to get up and achieve your daily fitness goals — at least she’ll keep you from turning into a hunchback in front of the computer screen. The watch is also pretty snappy looking, with its swappable bands and whatnot. Link it to the rest of your outfit for easy readouts without pulling out your phone.
Related: Apple Watch hands-on review
What you don’t need in this outfit is another motion-tracking pedometer, so these shoes break away from the fitness pack and do something different. Orphe Sneakers serve as Bluetooth audio-visual controllers and a customizable light display system. Each sole features 100 serially controlled LEDs that allow users – think dancers, DJs and other performance artists – to map movements to sound and light. In their iOS app you can create your own unique lighting plans or maps. Share these maps online with other wearers and inspire the Orphe artist community.
The API is open so developers can create their own applications for the hardware. Currently set for sale in 5 sizes, there are still a few packages available on Indiegogo for $299. If the campaign breaks $70,000, they’ll add two more sizes and the full suite of apps – (OSX at $50,000 and Android at $70,000).
Lechal means “take me along” in Hindi. Yes, of course Lechal footwear by Ducere Technologies acts as a pedometer and calorie counter, among other fitness features — it would be kinda dumb for shoes not to count steps. Thankfully, these differ from a lot of the tech here in that they weren’t conceived as weight loss or training aids, though they do conveniently have those features. Rather, Lechal insoles were conceived as guides for the visually impaired, but that doesn’t mean we sighted folk can’t make use of them.
They send haptic feedback through your feet to direct you along routes established in their app in conjunction with Google Maps. Stumbling home drunk has never been so easy. What’s more, the insoles can hide within a good deal of existing shoes, so no one has to know you have any smart tech on at all. The shoes themselves are a brightly-colored fashion statement though, and are available for preorder. A portion of their sales goes to purchase pairs for the hearing impaired, which is a morally smart business model.
Even Lechal’s footwear charger is smart — it may be the world’s first smart charger. It responds to a simple snap of your fingers with audio feedback and can even act as a fast charger for smart phones.
Let’s be honest, at this point shirts offer the most obvious ways to monitor a person’s bio-data because most of your important parts are in your chest, meaning your heart and lungs. Designed by Carré Technologies, Hexoskin shirts hug you like no other piece of clothing and know more about you than your girlfriend. They measure heart rate zones, resting heart rate, and recovery, breathing rate, maximum oxygen consumption and minute ventilation, activity level, acceleration, cadence, steps, calories, and sleep positions. Yes, sleep positions. It’s probably the smartest smartwear.
The magic of the Hexoskin line is in the sensors and the amazing battery life of more than 14 hours. Three sets of sewn-in sensors handle the data: the breathing sensor bands around the bust and above the natural waist, the cardiac sensors, two on the bust and one on the right side above the waist, and the movement sensor above the right hip. These sensors connect to the Hexoskin device that tucks into the side pocket where it stores and transmits the data.
Hexoskin shirts are not exactly like other sports wearables, which are often designed to keep your phone in your pocket, your hands free and your eyes on the road. The depth of detection makes them useful for all kinds of health related issues. Using the Hexoskin apps, you can read and manage your data in real-time on your Android or iOS phone. That includes your ECG, a stunning picture of your heart beating in real time. If you have iOS you can also see your lung activity.
For those who already have a program to analyze your data, Carré Technologies was kind enough to supply Open Data API, so you can download the raw stats and do whatever you want with them. There’s also the dashboard for PC which can be monitored by a trainer or coach.
Put all of this together and you end up with a shirt that can provide information previously only available via a slew of ungainly wires attached to bland consoles that look like they belonged in a hospital. For this reason, Hexoshirts are already being used by the Brooklyn Nets, MIT, and NASA labs for health research, in addition to many other organizations.
Hexoskin, unfortunately, doesn’t make pants. That’s where Athos comes in. They started their line of smartwear with shorts that measure movement and exertion, much like Hexoskin gear but using slightly different technology.
Fundamentally, however, they aim to satisfy the same need to perfect your training. Athos shorts have sensors over your major upper-leg muscle groups and a corresponding app (still iOS only) shows you which muscles are doing what. These shorts will tell you when you’re cheating in your squats or lunges and show which muscles are getting the most work. With a color-coded picture of your own ass, it’s easy to correct your form.