Smart clothes – also referred to as high tech clothing, smart garments, smart wear, electronic textiles, smart textiles, e-textiles, monitor clothing, or smart fabrics, are clothes enhanced with technology to add functionality beyond traditional use. Most smart clothes are made from advanced textiles with interwoven circuitry. Then, sensors and additional hardware are embedded for further smart functionality.
Smart clothes can connect to apps on smartphones or software on secondary devices such as laptops and PCs via bluetooth or wi-fi. Via the smart sensors, these smart garments collect activity metrics and key biometrics. The data is sent to AI-powered apps on your smartphone, to help with your health and performance.
However, wireless connectivity isn’t necessary to classify a garment as a type of smart clothing.
What are some examples of smart clothes?
Many companies have begun integrating technology in fashion making. As a result, smart clothes are popping up in almost every fashion category. Examples of the many different types of high tech clothing include:
•Smart shoes: Pizza Hut has experimented with limited-edition tech sneakers that can order pizza.
•Smart work clothes: Samsung has made a smart business suit that can exchange digital business cards, unlock phones, and interact with other devices.
•Smart sleepwear: Under Armour’s Athlete Recovery Sleepwear absorbs heat from the wearer’s body while releasing infrared light to increase sleep quality and improve muscle recovery.
•Smart activewear: Ralph Lauren’s PoloTech t-shirts connect to a smartphone app to record fitness activity and recommend new workouts to the wearer.
•Smart casual wear: Tommy Hilfiger embedded tech into garments to track product usage and reward customers for time spent wearing them.
•Smart socks: Sensoria’s Smart Socks can detect which part of your feet are receiving the most pressure during your run and send the data to a smartphone app.
Which companies make smart clothing technology?
A growing number of technology companies and fashion brands are operating in the smart clothing market. Moreover, the number of brands expected to join them is on the rise, now that the smart clothes concept has become popular.
Among some of the more well-known brands experimenting with smart clothing are Under Armour, Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, Samsung, Ralph Lauren, and Google. Smaller companies making a dent in the niche market include Sensora, Loomia, Komodo Technologies, and Hexoskin.
While Samsung and Google are easily the biggest tech companies investing in smart clothes, smaller companies such as OmSignal, BioMan, and Awear Solutions are also making their mark, either by releasing their own clothing lines or by collaborating with larger fashion brands.
Is smart clothing expensive?
In general, due to the extra costs required to embed technology in smart clothes, they’re pricier than traditional clothing. For example, a regular jacket may retail for around $100.
However, a similar style smart jacket could set you back anywhere between $200 and $500, depending on the brand. As with most tech products and fashion items, older smart clothes models will decrease in price as newer ones come out. Cheaper imitations of popular products will also begin popping up more and more on online marketplaces such as Amazon, Ali Express, and Wish.
Where can I buy smart clothes?
Most smart clothes are available for purchase from a brand’s official website. For example, the official Levi’s storefronts will sell only their brand of smart clothing items.
On the other hand, some big sporting goods shops will sell Under Armour and Levi’s smart clothes as well. Moreover, not just physical retail stores but also online shops like Amazon stock them too.
Are wearables a type of smart clothing?
The term ‘wearables’ refers to fitness trackers such as Garmin trackers or Fitbit bracelets. ‘Wearable’ is also used when talking about high tech accessories such as smartwatches like the Apple Watch.
On the other hand, smart clothes refer only to advanced clothing such as swimsuits, shorts, t-shirts, or hats (like bluetooth beanies). But, the term is often used interchangeably with smart clothes, by consumers and companies alike. This isn’t necessarily incorrect, as the term does mean technology you can wear.
The best smart clothing
After first popping to the surface in 2015, the ‘e-textile and smart clothing’ segment are still to reach mainstream adoption. Yet, we’re seeing more companies using innovative technology to create 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 our morning coffee. All of that without grabbing your smartphone or even tapping on your smartwatch screen.
Without further ado, these are the best smart clothing you can buy right now, in 2021.
1. Nadi X yoga pants by Wearable X
Company | Wearable X
Feature | Built-in haptic vibrations
If you’re a beginner in Yoga, certain body postures can be quite difficult. How do you move your body? How long do you hold your position?
Without a good instructor, if you try by yourself, you’ll soon find yourself in trouble. However, Sydney-based startup Wearable X’s Nadi X pants solve all of that. Nadi X yoga pants can sense when your yoga pose needs refining.
Using haptic feedback, the smart pants send small vibrations to the body part you need to adjust. The built-in haptic vibrations gently pulse at the hips, knees, and ankles to encourage you to move and/or hold positions.
The trousers sync up via bluetooth to your phone and, through the companion app, give you additional feedback. The Nadi X app offers instructions on how to optimise each pose, in addition to proper yoga flows which can be used to curate your own personal yoga class.
Nadi X yoga pants are available for men and women in a variety of sizes and are completely machine washable after removing the battery pack which attaches to the rear of your left knee.
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.
2. Smart clothing jacket by Levi’s Google Jacquard
Company | Levi’s X Google
Feature | Answer calls, play music, take photos
Levi’s commuter trucker jacket was the first piece of connected clothing launched from Google’s Project Jacquard platform. By building touch and gesture sensitive areas on the jacket sleeve, wearers are able to interact with a variety of services including music and map apps. You can dismiss phone calls with a swipe or double-tap to get directions – all without reaching for your phone.
The smart denim jacket will smarten up your commute in more ways than you can imagine. The Commuter x Jacquard fashion tech jacket connects to your smartphone via bluetooth. The jacket can screen phone calls, control music volume, and even notify you when your rideshare is nearby.
Interestingly enough, this jacket has been more recently adopted by the lovers of streetwear fashion.
3. Smart shirt by Ambiotex
Company | Ambiotex
Feature | Measures heart rate, anaerobic info, and stress levels
Ambiotex’s smart shirt is built with serious athletes in mind, whether you’re a runner, cyclist, or live in the gym. The compression-style fit means you need to be in pretty decent shape already to pull it off.
The integrated sensors, along with the clip-on box, record key data such as heart rate variability, anaerobic threshold, as well as fitness and stress levels. Data can be viewed in real-time on the companion smartphone app. There, you get insights into your biometric data and what it means for optimizing training and recovery.
Furthermore, via the app, you have access to individual training programmes. The heart rate accuracy seemed to measure up in our testing.
However, while it doesn’t break the mould for fitness-based smart garments, it does do a good job of pushing out the stats and putting those numbers to good use.
4. AIO smart sleeve by Komodo
Company | Komodo Technologies
Feature | Monitors heart rate activity
Despite a failed Kickstarter campaign, Komodo Technologies still found a way to launch its compression sleeve. The smart clothing piece uses electrocardiogram (ECG) technology to monitor heart rate activity. Aside from offering accurate heart rate data, the sleeve monitors sleep and workout intensity.
The main smart module has sensors onboard to monitor body temperature, air quality, and UV rays. While it sounds like a perfect fit for fitness lovers, the start-up behind AIO seeks to measure stress levels and even detect heart inflammation and coronary heart disease as well. Available in two different models.
5. Athlete recovery by Under Armour’s
Company | Under Armour
Feature | Absorbs body heat
Athlete Recovery is Under Armour’s clothing line that absorbs heat from the body and then reflects it back onto the wearer’s skin. The absorbed heat is converted into far-infrared light and more recent studies show how important infrared light is for the human body.
Overall, if you’re a top-level athlete looking to enhance your muscle recovery and relaxation, this is a must-have smart clothing piece.
6. Smart sock gen 3 by Owlet
Company | Owlet
Feature | Tracks babies’ oxygen level and heart rate
The latest generation of Owlet Smart Sock has all the features you know and love. 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 more accurate sensors.
It’ll also work with Owlet’s new Connected Care platform, which helps to identify potential health issues, sleep irregularities, RSV, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, chronic lung disorders, and heart defects.
7. Smart Swimsuit by Neviano
Company | Neviano
Feature | Measures UV exposure
This French fashion technology 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 stops you from staying too long in the sun.
Once you’ve entered your skin type in the companion iOS or Android smartphone app, it’ll monitor the temperature throughout the day. Then, it sends out warnings when it is time to apply more sunscreen or get into the shade.
Designed and made in France, Neviano’s swimsuits are stylish and integrated with UV sensors. The sensor is about half the size of an adult’s thumb, waterproof, and connects to the wearer’s iOS or Android device.
Overall, this is a smart swimming suit that sends you reminders to apply more sunscreen when the UV levels are high.
8. Smart shirt by Hexoskin
Company | Hexoskin
Feature | Measures heart rate
This rare piece of smart clothing is another excellent example of technology in fashion. The Montreal-based company has developed a connected shirt laced with smart sensors.
Along with a heart rate, breathing and, movement monitoring sensor, the shirt is fitted with bluetooth so you can pair it with your favourite fitness apps such as MapMyRun, RunKeeper, and Strava. Moreover, via bluetooth, you can connect to a whole host of third-party accessories. Data is captured in real-time and is sent to the companion app, providing insights on a range of sporty metrics.
The data includes intensity and recovery, calories burned, fatigue level, and sleep quality. Hexoskin’s activewear is able to monitor your heart rate, calories, volume and breathing rate, steps, cadence, and even sleep, thanks to its complex construct. The brand’s smart clothes are made from high-quality Italian fabrics and the small device is hidden into a secret pouch on the shirt.
Available in short and long-sleeved versions for men and women, the smart device behind the Hexoskin can connect via bluetooth to all types of Android and iOS smartphones.
9. Smart clothing – socks by Sensoria
Company | Sensoria
Feature | Measures steps, speed, altitude, and distances
According to the company, Sensoria socks are infused with 100 per cent proprietary textile sensors, whatever that means. The socks are paired with a smart bluetooth detachable anklet that delivers superior accuracy. The measured data includes step counting, speed, calories consumed, altitude, and distance tracking. The device can also track cadence and foot landing techniques as you walk or run.
However, the main benefit of Sensoria socks lies in their capacity to identify injury-prone running styles. Heel striking, ball striking, angle cutting and running, are leveraged thanks to the smartphone app that can further create programmes to coach the runner.
The Sensoria app dashboard is designed to help the wearer achieve goals, improve performance, and reduce the risk of creating bad tendencies. Sensoria fitness socks use advanced textile sensors built into each sock. The sensors communicate with a connected anklet device designed to deliver precise data on how your foot lands while walking or running.
The connected app provides tips to improve your walking and running technique, and it tracks your steps, speed, altitude, and distance travelled. A new monthly subscription also unlocks a new dashboard and new training plans. 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.
10. Smart socks by Siren
Company | Siren
Feature | Prevents diabetics’ foot injuries
Not every bit of smart clothing is trying to help you get fitter. And this is exactly the case with the Siren socks, which are designed to detect and prevent diabetics’ foot injuries.
Siren’s smart socks, also referred to as Siren’s diabetic socks and foot monitoring system, use small sensors placed throughout the socks’ fabric to measure the foot’s temperature at six different points. The socks’ microsensors are woven into the fabric to continuously monitor the temperature.
When the sensors detect a rise in heat, such as an inflammation occurring, an alert is sent to the user, like 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 ignored, often resulting in amputations.
11. Smart baby hat by Neopenda
Company | Neopenda
Feature | Measures babies’ temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood oxygen saturation
Founded by Sona Shah and Teresa Cauvel, two Columbia University biomedical engineering graduates, the smart baby hat is truly a life-saving piece of smart clothing. Neopenda’s hat is designed for new born babies and measures temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood oxygen saturation.
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.
12. Smart clothing by Athos
Company | Athos
Feature | Measures biometrics and performance
Athos is a patented system that enables the world’s first smart clothing to measure how hard your muscles are working using the science of EMG (Electromyography). This is combined with powerful AI and a mobile app gives you insights to truly understand how your body performs.
The system has helped athletes at all levels train better and smarter, whatever your goal. At the forefront of wearable technology designed for smart clothing, Athos shirt and shorts are sensor-filled garments that measure your biometrics and performance, as you work out.
The whole AI processing is done by Athos Core, a little capsule that snaps into your Athos apparel to collect and analyse data from the garment’s sensors. Then, it delivers the data to your mobile app via bluetooth on your smartphone and lasts up to 10 hours on a single charge.
Athos Core can monitor your muscle activity, heart rate, and even breathing rate so it is able to provide real-time biometric tracking in real-time. ‘Core’ is the name chosen by Athos designers, according to its style as a small capsule glued to the garments.
The 10g “Core” device is inconspicuous as it can hide into your pocket, or be placed on the top of your t-shirt. Athos Core technology has been reserved for professional athletes until now, making these fitness garments excellent equipment choices for bodybuilders and people interested in active training sports.
13. Spectacles 2 by Snapchat
Company | Snapchat
Feature | Embedded camera, speaker, and microphone
Now, this is not a piece of smart clothing but it is worth mentioning here a good reason; the next level of smart clothing, the digital garments. Digital garments are in fact virtual layers superimposed on one’s body via AR glasses like these ones presented here.
Snapchat’s latest generation of smart glasses boasts improved image quality for videos and photos. It also comes with dual microphones for better sound recording, and it has faster transfer times. The Spectacles 2 have more colour variations than the original model.
Also, the design of the newer Veronica and Nico models was better received by the consumers. Although the AR cameras are still noticeable on the glasses, the new designs are a bit more subtle. By far the best way to broadcast to the world your smart clothing in form of snaps.
This article has not been edited by Fibre2Fashion staff and is re-published with permission from wtvox.com