Smart Clothing Geared for Athletes, a Niche Market Continuing to Mature

Connectivity to the Internet of Things (IoT) is enhancing features and functionality for a large number of consumer products. Athletes tend to be enthusiastic about collecting, analyzing, and changing performance based on that information.

I hope this high level introduction to smart clothing helps familiarize you to the excellent products that we can look forward to in the future.

What is smart clothing?

FactMR market intelligence firm defines smart clothing as: ”Smart clothing are fabrics, which enable electronics, and digital components to be integrated in them. These fabrics, developed with new technologies, render added value to users. These textiles differ from wearable computing, owing to the higher emphasis on seamless integration of electronic elements such as actuators, sensors, and microcontrollers into textiles.”

Most products commercially available likely are out of price range of casual athletes – but a quick Google search largely includes smart shirts and socks.

Creating Next Generation Athletic Clothing

Creating smart clothing adds complexity to the value chain, with sensors, data collection tools, e-textiles, and other technology required for the products. Using this connected hardware along with software yields workout summaries, feedback, tips, injury prevention, and other value to the wearer.

Future of Smart Clothing

“Smart” clothing is making solid strides in recent months, but requires a larger maturation period that other smart technology. Expect to see shirts continue to control the smart clothing market across the world – but expect shoes, suits, sports bras, and other clothing to also develop quickly.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia track muscle metabolism of athletes using sensor-embedded fabric and custom software. The ability to accurately track local metabolism levels empowers coaches to track recovery, injury risk, and other important metrics. A final prototype is on track for release before the end of this year.

Additional Resources

Wareable – “The best smart clothing: From biometric shirts to contactless payment jackets”

Nanalyze – “11 startups weaving smart clothes for athletes”

Slate – “Where are our useful futuristic clothes already?”

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