There’s now a reason to put even more thought into your gym wardrobe: A lot of clothing you can wear is high-tech and smart. These clothes are able to monitor your heart rate and calories burned while critiquing your form, tracking miles you’ve run and helping you overall become a more efficient athlete.
2016 is going to be a big year for these smart clothing companies. Here’s what’s on the horizon.
AiQ Smart Clothing
Cold weather can be a deterrent to some athletes. You have to dress carefully because even when it’s cold outside, you’ll sweat a lot. AiQ Smart Clothing has the solution: the ThermoMan jacket, which spreads heat throughout your body when you wear it. The company also produces NeonMan jackets with LED lights and a rechargeable battery, which is perfect if you enjoy exercising outside once the sun goes down.
Connecting with popular fitness apps such as Runkeeper, MapMyFitness, Nike+, Strava and Apple Health, the OMsignal bra is more than your average sports bra. It features built-in sensors, has padded cups, and will be available in different patterns and colors when it’s released in spring 2016.
The Smart Box, which connects to the bra, measures your running speed, distance and more, and then sends that information to your mobile device. The Smart Box is ready to go for 10 rounds of exercise before it needs to be recharged, and it’s waterproof.
France’s Cityzen Sciences is the company behind the Smoozi D-Shirt, a garment with sensors embedded within the fabric that can read your altitude, running speed and heart rate. These sensors also double as a GPS and can detect your route and your current location. Make sure to download the accompanying app to automatically sync up workout data to your smartphone or other mobile device via Bluetooth. If you have a personal trainer, the D-Shirt app lets them see how hard you’re exercising so they can make recommendations later.
Digitsole produces smart footwear, including the Warm Series. These shoes sync with your favorite wearable fitness watches and bracelets and include an accelerometer to monitor calories burned and the amount of steps you take. Of course, this can all be displayed on your smartphone. Cold? The reason these smart shoes are called the Warm Series is because you can change the temperature from your device, and you can even set each shoe to a different temperature.
You can fill your whole wardrobe with Hexoskin products, including tank tops and long-sleeved shirts for both men and women. Whichever clothing appeals most to your personal tastes, all of them can count your steps; read your cadence; monitor burned calories; track your acceleration and activity level; watch your breathing rate; and display your heart rate, heart rate variability and your heart rate recovery. Some of Hexoskin’s shirts read data from Strava and Runkeeper for full fitness monitoring.
Dutch company Myontec are the makers of the Mbody advanced training system for running and biking. This includes athletic shorts, which are ergonomically designed and have Carvico Revolutional elastic compression and Elastic Interface padding. These also have an MCell Smart measuring device that tracks distance, speed, cadence, heart rate and muscle load, sending it straight to your mobile device via Bluetooth. These shorts are compatible with Myontec’s Muscle Monitor, another piece of health-tracking software.
Your Digitsole shoes would go well with a pair of smart socks from Sensoria Fitness. These socks are intended to prevent running injuries, which the company says affect up to 65 percent of athletes annually. With sensors at the bottoms of the socks, you’ll know if you’re favoring the ball or heel of your foot when running. Download the Sensoria Fitness app to see your foot heat map and learn more about your foot landing as you run so you can exercise more safely.
A two-piece compression suit, Heddoko’s smart clothing can monitor all areas of your body. Turn on the Heddoko app, and you’ll see what you’re doing on the screen in 3D. Even better, if your form isn’t quite right, the app lets you know right away so you can change it and prevent injury. The Heddoko app measures your physical fitness levels across weeks and months so you can go back and review your progress.
Another sports bra option for women, NuMetrex and its Adidas miCoach Seamless Sports Bra will change how you work out. Available in white, red, black, blue and magenta, the bra also includes hidden sensor fabrics. The Adidas Heart Rate Monitor clicks right into the front of the bra where there are two snaps. This also works with most cardio equipment and sports watches to track your heart rate.
The Thermal Vision 2.0 shirts from Radiate Athletics are referred to as a “personal trainer in a shirt.” With Thermal Vision technology, these T-shirts and hoodies start off white, but as you exercise and target each part of your body, the garment can change colors to correspond with the affected muscles. If you want a more effective full-body workout, you can see which muscles you need to favor more next time.
Whether you’re pushing yourself for a marathon or you’re just trying to jog one last mile, Lumo Bodytech helps you improve efficiency one step at a time. The Lumo Run shorts for men and women include a waterproof sensor that needs to be recharged only monthly. Put on some headphones and let Lumo’s coaches instruct you on how to run better, longer and farther. The Lumo Run App generates numerous useful metrics, including your stride length, pelvic rotation, braking, ground contact time, bounce and cadence.
The Lumo Lift sensor isn’t for exercise, per se, but can be worn on your normal clothes. It does keep track of burned calories and is meant to improve your posture by warning you when you stop sitting up straight.
The jackets that Visijax produces have received accolades from Wearable Technologies, Ltd. and at the CES Innovation Awards. With a line of garments and accessories that includes workwear, belts, backpacks and gilets, these jackets go beyond just fitness wear. All the colorful jackets are illuminated with strips of LED lights near the front zipper and down the arms. Some of them, like the commuter jacket, even have turn signal technology triggered by your movements.
Choose from a sports bra, shirt or wearable strap from Clothing+’s line of e-textiles called Peak+. Each garment has sensors that track your heart rate. A Suunto wireless transmitter captures all heart rate information, which you can then send to your Peak+ app on your computer, tablet, smartphone or other mobile device.
Zackees’ Turn Signal Gloves
We already mentioned the Visijax commuter jacket with turn signal technology, but Zackees also lets you control traffic with your hands. Zackees’ Turn Signal Gloves are ideal for cyclists who just don’t get a lot of time to train in the daylight. With a fleece interior and a waterproof exterior, these gloves include an LED blinker that you trigger by firmly touching your index finger and thumb together. With Ambient Light Sensors, you get four times the brightness if you do happen to get your bike out in the morning or afternoon.
With three ways to track your activity, SmartLife garments connect to an app, to the SmartLife Brain and to the sensors within the clothes themselves for a full picture of your long-term health. An accelerometer and the sensors read electrical signals to reveal the number of calories burned, your respiratory rate and your heart rate during your workout. SmartLife keeps your data in its cloud, where you can transmit it through Bluetooth to your tablet or smartphone.
Comfortable and smart, Lechal shoes have pods that fit discreetly inside the footwear. The company also produces insoles that make the same use of these pods. As you run, walk or go about your regular routine at the gym, the pods read your activity via Bluetooth. When you’re done exercising, take the tiny stainless steel pod out of your shoe or insole, connect it to the USB charging dock and your info syncs to the Lechal app. You can also use the app during your runs.
Footfalls & Heartbeats
Footfalls & Heartbeats is led by Simon McMaster, a New Zealand scientist. His smart textiles, used in all the clothes from the brand, don’t require any internal sensors because these are woven right into the textiles.
How? “The Footfalls & Heartbeats technology combines mathematically determined textile structures using electrically conductive yarn to form a repeatable and sensitive sensor network,” the team writes. “The technology uses the three-dimensional complexity of a textile structure, including interactions of fibers within the yarn itself, to control the electrical resistance characteristics of the sensor structure.”
Praised by the BBC, A.V. Club, Forbes and more, Boogio isn’t yet on the market, but a select few have gotten to try these wearable foot sensors. Unlike some of the other companies above, Boogio lets you stick sensors on any pair of shoes you already own. Through the app, you can measure your activity. The creators do say that they want to expand beyond just fitness into virtual reality and mobile games.
What if you could do the same workout but burn more calories? With Physiclo, you can. These exercise pants boast resistance technology with mesh panels and elastic bands. You will work your muscles approximately 23 percent harder, the company says. All that extra effort leads to 14 percent more calories burned than doing the same workout without wearing the Physiclo pants.