Goodbye fitness bands: Soon, motion sensors will be woven right into our clothes

XelfleX
Cambridge Consultants developed a new smart textile that could make the smart clothing we currently only dream of a reality. It’s called XelfleX (it’s pronounced ex-el-flex, apparently), and by using a special fiber optic thread to track movement, it turns the very fabric of our clothes into a motion sensor.

The thread is thin, light, and flexible, plus it’s water resistant and won’t be damaged by washing, which makes it suitable for clothing worn everyday. Woven into tight fitting garments, each fiber optic thread can hold up to ten sensors, which recognize flexing joints and other movements. It can also send signals to a small power pack, then on to a smartphone. From here, custom algorithms interpret and analyze the data.

While we tend to think only about fitness tracking when considering smart clothes, XelfleX technology goes way beyond knowing how many steps we take. For example, it could be used to monitor and then train us to make a perfect golf swing, or deliver a beautiful tennis backhand, because it knows exactly where we’re going wrong.

It doesn’t only have sporting uses either. The growing interest in VR environments means a convenient, lightweight, and precise system to interpret body movements could be suitable to control next-generation games. There is also a need in healthcare for a system to accurately measure body movement in people recovering from serious injuries.

Beyond this wide variety of uses, XelfleX’s real breakthrough could be in making smart clothing actually wearable. Style is paramount, and for smart clothing to be accepted by regular people, it needs to be almost identical to its less-than-clever counterpart. It shouldn’t cost four times the price either. Cambridge Consultants’ Martin Brock, who invented XelfleX, says the sensor will allow companies to make smart clothing that is “low cost, durable, useful, and attractive to wear.”

We’ll have the chance to see XelfleX, and give it a try, at CES 2015.

Deals

These Black Friday furniture deals offer up to 80 percent off

Retailers across all industries use Black Friday to offer incredible deals on everything from kitchen appliances, to full bedroom sets. As such, it’s the ideal time to upgrade your space with pieces that will make you feel more…
Computing

Don't use streaming apps? These are the best free players for your local music

Rather than using music streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Wearables

Check out 25 of the best Wear OS apps for your smartwatch

Looking for some ways to spruce up that new Android smartwatch of yours? Here are the best Wear OS apps to download and use with any Android smartwatch, including a few specially enhanced for Wear OS 2.0.
Mobile

The world’s first smartglasses showrooms open in Brooklyn and Toronto

Canadian startup North is hoping smartglasses will be the next big wearable. After announcing its new Focals smartglasses in October, the company opened product showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto.
Deals

Here are the best Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa deals for Black Friday

Apple products are the most sought-after products for Black Friday, the leaked preview ads show what discounts retailers will have for the Apple Watch Series 3 and other smartwatches, such as the Fitbit Versa, this holiday season.
Product Review

With style and feature upgrades, Misfit's next-generation Vapor 2 gets it right

Misfit’s next-generation smartwatch, the Vapor 2, packs built-in GPS, a heart-rate sensor, and more, into a beautiful design that starts from $250. We take a closer look at the company's latest device.
Music

Music to our ears: Spotify at long last arrives on the Apple Watch

Spotify subscribers are now able to jam out to their favorite tunes on their favorite workout accessory, as the Swedish streaming service has finally released its official Apple Watch app.
Health & Fitness

Withings new Pulse HR is a customizable, connected fitness tracker

Inspired by Withings first ever fitness tracker the Pulse, the new Pulse HR is updated with the latest in fitness tracker technology including smart notifications, 24/7 heart rate tracking, and more.
Emerging Tech

Believe it or not, this fire-proof exoskeleton isn’t designed for space marines

A company called Levitate Technologies has developed a fire-resistant upper body exoskeleton that’s capable of lowering exertion levels by up to 80 percent when you carry out manual work.
Mobile

The Motiv smart ring is coming to 20 more countries and physical stores

Remember Motiv's activity tracking smart ring? It's back with a raft of new features that adds biometric identification and token authentication, all on a device that fits on your finger.
Wearables

Everything you need to know about Garmin’s GPS watches and trackers

Garmin jumped into the GPS smartwatch and fitness tracker market five years ago and has built a portfolio of devices that rivals competitor Fitbit. Here's your guide to the latest and greatest fitness devices that Garmin has to offer.
Wearables

Google's Wear OS update 'H' promises battery life improvements

Google has rebranded its Android Wear operating system to Wear OS. Removing the Android name may help people better understand Google-powered smartwatches, which also play nice with iOS devices. 
Product Review

This featherweight Fossil might be the lean smartwatch you've been waiting for

Fossil has released its first-ever smartwatch featuring Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100. For $255, it comes equipped with a heart-rate sensor, built-in GPS, and more, but does the Fossil Sport live up to the hype? We take a closer look.