The best smart clothing: From biometric shirts to contactless payment jackets

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Well worn: The best smart clothing
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Smart clothing is the wearable we expected to go mainstream many years ago, but things haven't quite panned out like that.

We hoped Google's Project Jacquard would be the turning point but many of the clothing that showcased its controlling tech are sadly no longer available to buy.

That's not to say there hasn't been some connected garments of note that have shown us there is place to have sensor-packed clothes on our bodies and in our wardrobes.

Essential reading: Best truly wireless earbuds to buy now

Going beyond putting tech on our wrists, faces, ears and feet, meet the small collection of standout smart clothing options we think are worth checking out.

Smart clothing key considerations

Fit

Yes, it's an obvious one, but with the way that some smart clothing works, you might need deviate from the same sizing rules you typically apply to buying non-smart clothing. That's because placement of sensors in connected clothes sometimes need to sit much closer to the body, so can offer a more compression-style fit when they're on. That could be respiration sensors for instance, which need to be positioned closer to the chest to accurately measure breathing rate.

What they track

It feels like there's a bit of a split right now in terms of the types of features that smart clothing deliver. Some promise to monitor metrics like heart rate or movement, much like smartwatches or sports watches are capable of. Others can act as controls for your other smart devices.

The range of sensors delivering these features are commonplace in other wearables, but the promise is to ensure they deliver the same data in a more accurate fashion. So heart rate sensors baked into a garment that sits close to your chest should deliver more accurate data than a watch where even small movements can impede on sensor accuracy.

Getting them cleaned

This is particularly relevant to smart clothes that are built for tracking exercise. These garments can be thrown in the wash, though many setups do include clip-on modules that will need to be removed before you do that. Like any clothing, you need to pay close attention to the washing instructions, but the idea is to treat them as you would with any thing that starts to whiff and is in need for a clean.

Nadi X yoga pants

Price when reviewed: $279, wearablex.com | Amazon

The best smart clothing: From biometric shirts to contactless payment jackets

Yoga can be difficult, especially if you're just beginning. How do you move your body? How long do you hold your positions?

If you don't have a good instructor, or if you try to do it yourself, you could find yourself in over your head. Sydney-based startup Wearable X's Nadi X pants, however, want to solve that.

The fitness pants come with built-in haptic vibrations that gently pulse at the hips, knees and ankles to encourage you to move and/or hold positions. It syncs up via Bluetooth to your phone and, through the companion app, gives you additional feedback. It comes in four sizes – XS, S, M, L – and four styles – Midnight, Midnight with black, Black/White with mesh and Navy/Gray with mesh. Ships in August 2017.

Check out our full review of the Nadi X smart yoga pants for more.

Whoop Body

Price when reviewed: From £16/$18, whoop.com

The best smart clothing: From biometric shirts to contactless payment jackets

Whoop's Body garment range is less connected gear and more offering you a place to re-position the recovery and sleep tracker so it's out of sight. There's boxers, thongs, sports bras, compression tops and shorts that are fitted with compartments that can hold Whoop's sensor-packed device and promise the same tracking that you'll get from wearing it on your wrist or arm.

So if you don't like wearing a watch to bed, you can slip the Whoop into your boxers and track sleep from there instead. If you're unconvinced about the accuracy of the heart rate sensor during high intensity exercise, you can wear it inside of a compression top that puts those monitoring sensors much closer to the chest.

Pricing ranges for the different Body garments, but we've tried out the everyday boxers and they felt just like your standard pair of underwear with the added component of having somewhere to drop your Whoop into.

You do still need to sign up for a membership to activate Whoop and then you can add these garments into the tracking mix to offer more versatile wearing options.

Have a read of our in-depth Whoop 4.0 review to find out how we got on with the sports wearable.

AIO Sleeve 2.0

From $159, komodotec.com

The best smart clothing: From biometric shirts to contactless payment jackets

Despite a failed Kickstarter campaign, Komodo Technologies still found a way to launch its compression sleeve that uses electrocardiogram (ECG) and optical-based PPG technology to monitor heart rate activity.

ECG/EKG measurements are taken by placing your thumb or index finger on an electrode that's placed on the outside of the sleeve. The free companion app can also monitor HRV to offer insights into stress and wants to use that data to create diet scores to help users better understand the impacts that different foods and alcohol has on overall health.

While there was the initial promise to deliver metrics like sleep, body temperature and keeping tabs on UV levels, Komodo has focused on the heart and getting accurate HR data that it can turn into useful and reliable insights.

Hexoskin Smart

$598, hexoskin.com

The Montreal-based smart clothing startup's connected shirt is laced with sensors. Along with monitoring heart rate, breathing and movement, it's fitted with a Bluetooth Smart sensor so you can pair your favourite fitness apps such as MapMyRun, RunKeeper and Runtastic.

The iOS and Android-friendly garment captures data in real time and sends it all to the companion app, providing insights on a range of sporty metrics including intensity and recovery, calories burned, fatigue level and sleep quality.

It delivers 36 hours of battery life in-between charges, is machine washable and includes a pocket to store the device that delivers all of the smarts and has room for up to 100 days of raw data.

Sensoria running socks 2.0

Price: $299,sensoriafitness.com

The best smart clothing: From biometric shirts to contactless payment jackets

Startup Sensoria's connected socks are capable of tracking your runs in detail, offering information on pace, distance and time as well as your running style. They can help users run with better form thanks to a new AI coach, which can lead to faster times and a reduced risk of injury.

The socks feature three textile pressure sensors, which measure the pressure placed on the foot during running. The new Sensoria Core module, which does the brain work, is now also smaller and lighter to wear than the original. A new monthly subscription also unlocks a new dashboard and new training plans.