The tennis courts at the US Open this year will be hosting more than just competitors lofting high-tech rackets. Ralph Lauren is using the event to debut the Polo Tech, a compression shirt with biometric sensors that acts like an extremely sophisticated fitness band without having anything around your wrist.
Sensors are knitted into the core of the shirt and include an accelerometer, gyroscope, and heartbeat monitor. The information is collected by a data module and fed into an iOS app that monitors stress levels, calories burned, respiration, heartbeat, and energy output. An athlete can adjust training by breathing more deeply, increasing exertion to hit a target heart rate, or focusing on reducing stress in competitive situations.
The Polo Tech shirts won't make appearances on any tennis stars during the actual tournament play. Marcos Giron, currently ranked as the top singles player in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, will test the shirt during practice rounds and will try making adjustments based on the information gleaned from the sensors.
Some of the ball boys (women's shirts are still under development) at the US Open will be sporting the shirts. Look for the ball collectors wearing the tight black shirts with a yellow polo horse, rather than the ones wearing the looser traditional polo-style shirts.
Ralph Lauren himself isn't sitting around coding software and designing sensors. The clothing company partnered with OMsignal, a biometrics clothing maker, for the shirt. OMsignal is currently offering its version of the shirt and black-box data collector for preorder at $199 (about £120, AU$215). The OMsignal-branded shirts are expected to be available by the end of the year for both men and women, though they won't be emblazoned with the screaming yellow Polo logo.