If you’ve been watching the U.S. Open this week, you may have noticed a couple ball boys who are decked in noticeably cooler outfits than the rest. They’re pawns in Ralph Lauren’s newest experiment: wearable tech.
Polo Tech, which will launch for men and women in Spring 2015, is the first foray into biometric clothing by a designer label. Ralph Lauren, the official clothier of the Open, is debuting the black and yellow prototype at the tennis tournament.
It’s a compression shirt with a band of sensor fibers woven into the fabric around the chest. The sensors measure your heart rate and breathing rate, which are collected by a removable box on one side that transmits the data via Bluetooth to a proprietary app on your iPhone. The “black box” also has a gyroscope and an accelerometer that capture your movement and send it to the phone, too. Then you can watch in real time as your workout gets your heart pumping and the app tracks how hard you’re working.
It’s not drastically different from the information you’d get wearing a heart rate monitor around your chest, but it’s more accurate than a fitness band on your wrist. Plus, it’s Polo.
“No major luxury brand is doing this,” says David Lauren, senior vice president of marketing. “We wanted to be the first.”
For now you can check out the shirt for yourself at the NYC flagship of the new Polo for Women, where the prototypes will be on display. The inaugural line will be launched in other colors and styles for spring. Eventually, Lauren says, they plan to move beyond sportswear, putting wearable tech into the kinds of preppy pieces the brand is known for.