Very soon, fitness trackers will be moving from an accessory on your wrist to being embedded right into your clothing. Google and Under Armour are creating “connected clothing,” apparel that will have tracking chips built right into the fabric.
The future of fitness trackers
Google’s “Project Jacquard”
At its Google I/O event in February, Google demonstrated some of the fascinating new ways it’s trying to make digitized fabric. Its “Project Jacquard” builds electricity-conducting yarn into regular garments, essentially making touchscreens that are flexible enough to wear.
This technology isn’t completely new. There are tech start-ups, such as Athos, that have been working in this space for some time. However, with Google’s scale and technological resources, as well as a partnership with clothing company Levi’s, this technology could be accessible at a consumer level very soon. As of now, there is no date set for when connected Levi’s garments might be sold to the public, though.
Under Armour shows us how applicable connected clothing could really be
While Google’s technology is fascinating technically, it’s Under Armour that’s showing us how the idea could be applicable at a consumer level. Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank estimates that within the next five years, 50 billion retail items will have a connected chip.
“If we believe that our future is going to be defined by these hard pieces of glass or plastic that sit in our back pockets, you’re crazy. It is going to convert into apparel,” Plank said, as reported by the The Wall Street Journal.
As an apparel company with an increasingly large tech focus, Under Armour plans to be on the forefront of connected apparel. There are the obvious athletic and fitness advantages, such as having sensors throughout your athletic gear to monitor specific movements and provide coaching at a more specific level than any human coach would be able to. This side of connected clothing plays well into Under Armour’s push for connected fitness tracking, including a platform of fitness apps that together already have over 140 million users.
However, Under Armour’s loftier goals include ideas such as personalized temperature control. Plank has made comments about how inefficient it is that we control the temperature in our entire house or office for just a few small bodies. Why not allow our digitized clothing to regulate temperature for us instead? This is just one of the many uses of connected clothing that could make this a disruptive technology in the coming years.
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