Beyond mom's prompts ...

An app on your smartphone makes sense of the data harvested by the OMsignal shirt and can help your training. Credit: OM Fitness.

I don't know about you, but I remember my mom insisting that I wear an undershirt because that "is good for your health".

My kids no longer wear the undershirt most of the time, because it is not "cool".

Well, now they might have a reason to change their mind: the OMsignal shirt.

OM Fitness has announced the availability of a fitness shirt embedding sensors that can measure heart beat and breathing rate. It connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone (an iPhone for the time being).

The sensors are weaved in the shirt fabric. They are made of silver wires that change their resistance based on stretching, something that happens every time your heart beats or you take a breath. Clearly the shirt needs to fit snugly on you to detect your torso size variation.

Sensors data are aggregated into a deck of card sized box that adds a few more data it detects through an accelerometer.

The app comes for free. For the shirt you need to pay about 240$ and that includes the box with the accelerometers, the computer to preprocess sensors data and the communication with your iPhone. An extras shirt would cost you a hundred dollars. Not cheap, but not expensive either!

OM clearly position this product on the fitness market but it is not far fetched to imagine this same shirt being used for monitoring certain chronic pathologies. The reason why most of these applications are targeting the fitness market rather than the health care market is because of regulation and accountability. 

This is also the reason, at least one of them, for EIT ICT Labs to focus its well being area outside of the health care domain, to avoid opening a can of worm. 

The trend, however, is quite clear to me. In the next decade we are going to have aware wear and the data harvested by sensors through the day will be used by our doctor as an alternative to medical exams. Because of the continuity of data flow and their coverage in the different times of the day they will prove more information rich than the ones that can be derived by medical equipment over just five minutes and in a very "unnatural" situation, a lab exam.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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