Wearable fitness and health devices like Apple Watches and Fitbit have become almost mainstream, having been around for almost half a decade.
Beyond wrist-based fitness devices, technologies like rings that monitor your sleep and provide a readiness score for the next day, and straps that monitor recovery after exercise have also become popular.
Smart clothing is a type of wearable fitness that has yet to enter the mainstream market. However, this is a market that is expected to explode over the next few years as people start to find interest in using numbers to learn how their bodies work.
Examples of smart clothing include yoga pants that send pulses to your hips that remind you to move or maintain your current position, or a bikini that reminds you when you’ve spent too much time in the sun or need to apply. more sunscreen.
Smart clothing goes mainstream
The most subtle way to generalize this technology is to incorporate it into people’s clothes without it being obvious.
That’s why it’s likely that normal-looking sportswear that can monitor current exercise will become the norm in many gyms and exercise classes over the next decade.
There are many examples of smart clothing that may come across as wasteful spending to those who can afford it, but a thematic report from GlobalData reported that in 2020, the smart clothing industry was worth $ 668 million. This shows that there is already a sufficient basis for the products to be supported by the general public.
It is predicted in the GlobalData study that by 2030, the industry will be worth more than $ 4 billion thanks to a compound annual growth rate of 21% as smart clothing begins to become more accessible and worn more widely. This is due to advancements in electronic textiles, artificial intelligence, and motion tracking, which are key features of smart clothing.
Benefits of smart clothing
It is difficult to understand what the benefits of smart clothing are without presenting a few examples that we could all imagine using in our daily lives. Most smart clothing connects to apps on smartphone software on other devices like laptops and PCs.
Using sensors and other hardware, garments can collect activity metrics and key biometric data that shape what is presented to the user in the app or software.
In terms of smart sportswear, examples include polo shirts made by Ralph Lauren that record your physical activity and recommend new workouts to the user in the mobile app.
Another example is Sensoria’s smart socks which detect the areas of your feet that receive the most pressure during a run or exercise.
It’s not just sportswear that companies claim can use on-board technology. Samsung recently created a business suit that can exchange digital cards and interact with other devices.
Under Armor has produced sleepwear that absorbs heat from the wearer’s body while releasing infrared light to increase the quality of sleep and improve muscle recovery.
For the average consumer, smart clothing is more expensive than the average exercise clothing given the added costs of incorporating the necessary technology. As it becomes more widely produced and technology becomes more accessible, costs are likely to come down.
Boom planned for smart clothes
One of the main reasons for the anticipated boom in the smart clothing industry is that industries such as professional sports, healthcare, and the military are expected to use the technology on a much larger scale soon.
The ability to provide continuous monitoring of physical activity is very important in such industries.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the smart clothing industry in terms of shipping and revenue, it has not been decimated like many other industries as it is in the early stages of development and the market. can recover quickly.
Essentially, the projected growth in a $ 4 billion industry comes down to the expected influx of major investors from leading tech and apparel companies. Those like Samsung and Google have already dabbled in smart clothing, but are expected to ramp up their efforts and production soon.
For now, however, smart clothing remains an expensive luxury for those who can afford it to improve their. personal training, their sleep or their professional lifestyle.