Smart clothing is still to go mainstream after first popping to the surface in 2015, but we're slowly seeing more companies play around with the concept of connected garments.
Much more than just strapping gadgets to our wrists, faces, ears and feet, smart clothing can constantly track our heart rate, monitor our emotions and even pay for your morning coffee – all without grabbing a phone or even tapping a smartwatch screen.
Essential reading: The biggest benefits of smart clothing
But what are the best bits of smart clothing to buy? Well, below are some of the top tech garments we've seen so far, as well as a few that are coming soon.
Nadi X yoga pants
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.
Polar Team Pro Shirt
The GPS sports watch maker is dabbling in the world of smart clothing for the first time with a smart compression shirt that's designed for serious athletes.
With heart rate capture points on the front and a pocket on the back for a GPS sensor, users will be able to track motion and heart rate metrics in real time. Integration with Polar's Team Pro system means you can broadcast live training data, letting athletes and coaches monitor condition and fitness levels.
From the makers of the Lumo Lift posture tracker, these smart running shorts and capris pack in a sensor that can monitor a host of metrics including cadence, ground contact time, pelvic rotation and stride length. The smart running gear supports real time coaching, with feedback sent through to your headphones to help improve running form and reduce the chances of injury.
There's no change on the battery front, either, giving you an impressive one month off a single charge. If you don't want to buy the shorts, there's also the Lumo Run sensor that can smarten up your current running kit.
Wareable verdict: Lumo Run in-depth review
Google's Project Jacquard
Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket is the first piece of connected clothing to launch from Google's Project Jacquard platform.
By building touch and gesture sensitive areas on the jacket sleeve, users will be able to interact with a variety of services including music and map apps. You'll be able to dismiss phone calls with a swipe or double tap to get directions – all without reaching for your phone.
After a delayed launch, the smart denim jacket is finally ready to smarten up your commute in more ways than one.
Wareable verdict: Google Jacquard smart jacket review
Supa Powered Sports bra
Sabine Seymour's fashion tech startup, Supa, mashes up neon, a heart rate sensor and AI to give you a smart bra with a tonne of personality. It's water resistant and syncs to the Supa.AI app via Bluetooth. It'll use "invisible biometric sensors" and AI to not only keep track of workouts, but track things like UV levels, too.
You can get the Supa in three sizes – small, medium and large – and it comes in three distinct styles. There's the Supa heavy stripes, a blue-tinted mix and the very colourful 'colours'. You can pick up the bra for about $120, but you'll also need to get the Supa Reactor to actually keep track of your health data.
$120 (Supa Bra) / $60 (Supa Reactor), shop.supa.ai
Spinali Design smart bikini
This French fashion tech company has been busy creating connected clothing, including jeans, dresses and bikinis.
The Neviano UV Protect swimsuit collection is equipped with a removable medallion-style waterproof sensor that aims to stop you staying too long in the sun.
Once you've entered your skin type in the companion iOS or Android smartphone app, it'll continuously monitor the temperature throughout the day and will send out warnings when it's time to apply some more sunscreen or get into the shade.
From $162, spinali-design.com
Owlet Smart Sock 2
The second generation Owlet Smart Sock has all the features you know and love from the original. It uses the same pulse oximetry technology used in hospitals to monitor the little one's heart rate, making sure his or her sleeping and breathing haven't been interrupted. It also comes in three sizes, charges via a base station and syncs to your iPhone or Android phone to deliver data in real time.
New additions include improved Bluetooth range – up to 100 feet – and better placed sensors so that there are fewer false notifications. It'll also work with Owlet's new Connected Care platform, which will help you identify potential health issues like sleep irregularities, RSV, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, chronic lung disorders and heart defects.
Wareable verdict: Owlet Smart Sock 2 review
AIO smart sleeve
Despite a failed Kickstarter campaign, Komodo Technologies still found a way to launch its compression sleeve that uses electrocardiogram (ECG) technology to monitor heart rate activity.
Aside from offering accurate heart rate data, it monitors sleep, workout intensity and is available in two different models. Its module also has sensors on board to monitor body temperature, air quality and UV rays.
While it sounds like a perfect fit for fitness lovers, the startup behind AIO hopes that it can also measure stress levels and even help detect heart inflammation and coronary heart disease as well. We're currently putting the sleeve and sensor through its paces, so we'll see if these lofty aims are met in our full review.
From $116, komodotec.com
The Montreal-based smart clothing startup recently unveiled its latest connected shirt that's laced with sensors. Along with monitoring heart rate, breathing and movement, it's now fitted with a Bluetooth Smart sensor so you can pair your favourite fitness apps such as MapMyRun, RunKeeper and Strava, as well as a whole host of third-party accessories.
Data is captured 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.
$169 (shirt only)/$399 (full kit), hexoskin.com
Fellow Canadian company OMsignal supplied the tech behind the Ralph Lauren smart shirts at the US Open. Now, with women firmly in its sights, its mission has been to finally fix the sports bra once and for all – and make it smart in the process.
The OMbra records distances run, breathing rates and heart rate, and even tells you when you're recovered enough to head back to the gym. And it links it up with all the fitness platforms you'd expect, just in case you're not that into OMsignal OMrun.
The bra is adjustable at almost every thread, with straps, padding and cups all designed to fit your needs.
Wareable verdict: OMsignal OMbra review
Athos is based on expensive medical tech but designed for gym bunnies. Its range of training clothes comes woven with micro-EMG sensors that detect which of your muscles are working and transfer this workout data to a smartphone via a Bluetooth core.
Muscle effort, heart rate and breathing are all tracked and the app provides insights to help you to exercise correctly and avoid injury. This could be the personal trainer in your pocket you've been waiting for.
From $398, liveathos.com
Sensoria running socks 2.0
Sensoria's second gen connected socks aim to track 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.
Not every bit of smart clothing is trying to help you get fitter, with the Siren socks instead aiming to detect and prevent diabetics' foot injuries.
The socks feature microsensors woven into the fabric to continuously monitor temperature, and when they detect a rise in heat – a possible sign that inflammation is occurring – they'll alert the user with a smartphone notification or text message.
The idea is to catch injuries before it's too late, since inflammation can lead to foot ulcers. However, with diabetics who suffer from nerve damage often experiencing numbness in the legs, these symptoms are often ignored.
Shipping is expected to commence later this year, though people with diabetes interested in the connected socks can pre-order their plan already.
Samsung NFC suit
Samsung is going big on smart clothing and has already shown off its Body Compass workout shirt, which monitors biometric data, and a golf shirt in collaboration with Bean Pole Golf that includes weather and UV rating monitoring.
The Korean giant also has an NFC smart suit, built in collaboration with Rogatis, that lets the wearer unlock their phone, swap business cards digitally and set gadgets to office and drive modes.
It's already on sale in Korea for roughly $500, under Samsung's wearable brand The Human Fit, with no news yet as to whether it's going to break out into other territories.
Neopenda smart baby hat
We'll round things off with a truly life-saving use for smart clothing. Neopenda's vital signs monitor is fitted inside a hat for newborn babies.
It can measure temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood oxygen saturation. It is being developed by New York-based health startup of the same name, founded by Sona Shah and Teresa Cauvel, two Columbia University biomedical engineering graduates.
Up to 24 baby hats can be wirelessly synced, via Bluetooth, to one tablet which will run custom software. The idea is that doctors and nurses can check up on the vital signs of the whole room at a glance and get alerts if any changes in temperature or heart rate, say, are cause for concern.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the team is now in Uganda carrying out pilot studies to make its smart baby hat a reality.
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