You don’t need to be a gearhead to see that wearable tech is on the verge of blowing up in a big way. In 2011, the industry shipped just under 21 million wearable devices, according to ABI Research, but that figure is expected to top 169 million by 2017. Indeed, this year’s International CES in Las Vegas was nothing if not a showcase of fitness bands, with numerous manufacturers scrambling to cash in on the craze.
But to this point, the wearables market has been spearheaded by just two categories: fitness bands and AR glasses. Ultimately, if wearable tech is going to be as big as most analysts say, it needs to cover more ground.
OMsignal is one of the most captivating new entrants to the market. While it's still actively developing them, the company plans to release a line of bio-sensing compression shirts later this year. But just what the heck is a "bio-sensing compression shirt"?
Well, these unique threads can monitor your heart rate, breathing volume, breathing rate, activity intensity, calories burned, and steps taken. They’re also designed to stimulate blood flow and improve muscle capacity. Essentially, the shirt is like a fitness band on steroids.
You can also use the shirt to monitor your health activity in real time via an app (iOS only, at this time). The only visible hardware is a compact "data module" that attaches to the shirt to provide power and wirelessly communicate with connected mobile devices.
“The interest we’ve gotten has been from quantified selfers, people with medical situations, and people who want to connect with themselves,” OMsignal CEO Stephane Marceau told VentureBeat. “But the market that is most ready and hungry for this is the performance market … the weekend warriors. They don’t need to be super-athletes, but they care about fitness.”
The Montreal-based company has just completed a $1 million round of funding, and is now accepting pre-orders for its high-tech garments, which are expected to ship this summer.
Currently, buyers can acquire a tracker-shirt combo for $199, which is pretty reasonable when you consider the price of most fitness bands on the market. You can also purchase the module alone for $140, with individual shirts running from $79 to $109.
And yes, OM shirts are machine-washable, although Marceau recommends air drying them.