Jabil Peak+: Is this the key to bringing smart clothing to the masses?

How one company wants to revolutionise smart clothing in a big way
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2015 was meant to be the breakthrough year for smart clothing. But it hasn't really panned out like that.

Early players like OMSignal have proved that there's still a lot to learn before you're walking into a JD Sports or a Nike Store to pick up a heart rate monitoring running vest.

Jabil, a tech company in St Petersburg, believes it has the answer to help one of the biggest growth areas in wearable technology to flourish. It has announced Peak+, a reference design for smart clothing for manufacturers to build sensors into t-shirts and sports bras, to record biometric data without sacrificing comfort.

Teaming up with experts in the field

Jabil Peak+: Is this the key to bringing smart clothing to the masses?

Jabil's model to bring in experts in the field from the beginning could be vital here. That starts with the acquisition of Finnish-based outfit Clothing+, which has plenty of experience building textile-integrated electronics for Adidas, Garmin, Philips and Salomon.

The most famous Clothing+ project so far was helping to build the Adidas miCoach Elite system which a host of sides at the 2014 World Cup used, including eventual champions Germany.

Read this: Why smart clothing is a long way from hitting the big time

Jabil has also convinced sports watch makers Suunto to build the wireless transmitter for Peak+ to send tracked data from the sensors woven into the clothing to a companion app.

Rounding out the partnerships is a collaboration with Firstbeat, a heart rate data analytics company you probably haven't heard of, but there's a good chance you've used a product that supports it. The Samsung Gear S, Garmin Forerunner 630 and Sony SmartBand 2 utilise FirstBeat data analytics. The very same real-time information on recovery time and the effects of a tough workout can be delivered to the user.

Challenges of smart clothing 1.0

So is this really all that different from other smart clothing we've already read about? Well, not entirely. The key here is that Jabil believes it can speed up the time it takes to make clothing ranges and get real products out. It aims to help companies struggling to get to grips with adding innovative tech like banded heart rate monitors to existing clothing lines.

But that's not all. Jabil is also looking further afield by not focusing on simply improving sporting performance. Big steps are being made in healthcare and fashion industries and this kind of reference design could be tweaked for monitoring health, wellbeing and lifestyle tracking.

With a bigger pool of brands making smart clothing, it'll address arguably one of its biggest problems and that's price. Donning a shirt that monitors your breathing costs big money right now but with these kinds of partnerships, early adopters should see prices drop in 2016.

Jabil Peak+: Is this the key to bringing smart clothing to the masses?

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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