In 2014, a small company known as Hexoskin created a biometric shirt that was capable of measuring heart rate and tracking daily activities. The company is at it again with the new Hexoskin Smart, it's second-generation smart shirt.
The Hexoskin Smart is nearly identical to the earlier model, but with one major advantage. It is equipped with Bluetooth Smart, which improves battery life (yes, you have to charge it) and makes the shirt compatible with a number of third-party apps.
Hexoskin's smart shirt can track activities like steps, distance, calories burned and sleep. It can also measure more advanced metrics, such as heart rate, heart rate variability, breathing rate and breathing volume. The Hexoskin app for Android or iOS provides insights on intensity and recovery, calories burned, fatigue level and sleep quality.
The shirt can connect to a number of third-party apps, such as Strava, Runkeeper MapMyRun, Runtastic, Endomondo, Argus and Polar Beat. It can also be paired with GPS running watches that support Bluetooth heart-rate monitors, such as the Polar M400.
The addition of Bluetooth Smart improves battery life on the Hexoskin Smart from 17 hours to 34 hours with continuous usage. That means you can work out an hour a day for five days a week and not have to charge the shirt for nearly seven weeks, which shouldn't be too much of a hassle.
I wasn't able to test how accurate the measurements are, but I did get to check out the newest shirt. There are three versions: a male tank top, a female one, and a long sleeve shirt. With the exception of the small charging cord that is located in a side compartment, the shirt looks nearly identical to other workout shirts from Nike or Under Armor.
Hexoskin isn't the only company in the smart-clothing market. Ralph Lauren has a connected Polo Tech shirt, French company Emiota is working on a smart belt that automatically adjusts to changing waistlines, and LifeBeam has a smart hat that can measure heart rate.
While the market is relatively small today, research firm IDC has said that it expects smart-clothing shipments to increase worldwide from 200,000 items in 2015 to 5.6 million items by 2019.
The Hexoskin Smart is available now for preorder through Indiegogo. Interested buyers can pick up the shirt for $299 (converted, that's £203 or AU$423), a $100 savings on its retail price. The shirt is slated to arrive in May.