Keep your eyes on the ball boys. Seriously, keep your eyes on the young men running along the sidelines at next week’s U.S. Open because they will be sporting a black, connected shirt that will broadcast their vitals to a smartphone or even display. According to a profile in the New York Times, the shirts are a collaboration between Ralph Lauren, courtier to the preps, and OMsignal, purveyors of wearable tech.
The current [company]OMsignal[/company] shirts come with special conductive thread and a removable electronics pack, and cost about $200 for one. Imagine the shirt above with a giant Polo pony logo and you have a good idea of what Lauren is putting on the U.S. Open ball boys. We’ll make sure we ask Stephane Marceau, the CEO and co-founder of OMsignal, about this and other collaborations at our Roadmap design conference in November.
What’s most notable about the partnership is why it’s happening. According to a comment from David Lauren, son of the famous designer and the executive vice president for advertising, marketing and corporate communications at his father’s eponymous company:
That’s akin to how others building connected clothing are also viewing the opportunity. Not as an extension of watches or clip-on fitness trackers, but as something you just put on in the morning as part of your everyday activity. Alison Lewis, the co-founder of [company]Switch Embassy[/company], another connected clothing company offered similar sentiments in a story my colleague Signe Brewster wrote last month:
So while Google Glass may attract Diane von Fürstenberg’s fashion house and [company]Fitbit[/company] (see disclosure) has a deal with Tory Burch, the real opportunity for mainstream wearable adoption is in making the things we already use in our day-to-day lives smart, without adding a lot of bulk and costs. That’s going to take time, but I do believe it will happen.
Disclosure: Fitbit is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom.