Smart garments for general population everyday wear may catch on in another decade or two, but today there’s no compelling use case: the wearable equivalent of what computer journalists used to refer to as a “killer app.” We have seen digitally enhanced or equipped garments for special populations. SKIIN Smart Garments developed technology to weave with conductive yarns to create bio-sensitive, washable shirts and underwear. Chemists at the University of Massachusetts work on supercapacitors that can be woven into a fabric to provide power for integrated electronics.
In 2016 we wrote about Hexoskin’s work with biometric sensing garments and its contract with the Canadian Space Agency to develop a product called Astroskin to measure an astronaut’s vital signs during a 6-month rotation on the International Space Station. Hexoskin continues to develop Astroskin and its software API. Recent improvements for developers and users include additional security and privacy features and performance enhancements for the most frequently used functions.
Hexoskin sells Astroskin smart garments by special order but also has a full line of Hexoskin brand garments including Smart Shirts the company claims are clinically validated to continuously track heart rate, heart rate variability, breathing rate and volume, sleep, and activity data. Hexoskin Smart Kits for men, women, and juniors range from $400 to $500. Each Smart Kit includes one Hexoskin shirt, an iOS and Android-compatible Hexoskin Smart Device with Bluetooth wireless, a Hexoskin USB charging cable, and a free account and access to the Hexoskin Connected Health Platform for activity and data visualization and data management. Smart Kit components are also available separately. According to Hexoskin, the garments are machine washable, quick drying, and treated with antibacterial compounds to prevent odors.
At $500 per Smart Kit with a single shirt, Hexoskin garments aren’t mass market items. However, as Hexoskin and other companies continue to develop the technology, the apps, and wearability, the day when many of us own smart garments may be coming faster than we expect.