Most people have to keep their smart phones within arms reach. But what if instead of having your technology an arm’s length away, it was on your arm? Imagine: clothing with touchscreen capabilities built right into the fabric. A truly ‘wearable’ technology.
Under Armour is working on it as we speak, but they’re not quite there – yet.
Earlier this week, Under Armour officially unveiled Armour39: their next generation of wearable technology. Armour39 is an athletic performance monitoring system that measures ‘what matters most: WILLpower.’ WILLpower is Under Armour’s proprietary measurement for how hard an athlete pushes him or herself during a workout on a scale of 1-10, taking into account heart rate, calories burned, and past performances, among other things.
In promoting the new Armour39 system, Under Armour has released a commercial entitle “I Will” that seems to suggest a greater shift towards wearable technology. The video first focuses on the Armour39 system and chest strap, but transitions to a future concept suit that has touchscreen capabilities built directly into the fabric. The messaging in the video below makes it appear that Under Armour is currently working on such a suit, and not just promoting it as a concept.
Why Am I Curious
Microsoft is already working with researchers to create a new version of Kinect technology that can transform any surface into an interactive touchscreen. The idea of being able to connect and engage through any object – a notebook, a wall, a hand – without being tethered to specific device fascinates me because it allows connectivity in the most immediate sense.
We have so many devices that collect and store our personal data – biometrics, athletic performance, etc. and it’s really interesting to think about how an article of clothing can replace those devices and give us the opportunity to review, analyze and adjust to the data in real-time. As a runner, I think about the practical applications as the technology becomes more refined – apparel manufactures could use that data to adjust the “functionality” of the clothing itself. A shirt that can easily track external air temperatures, body temperature, heart and perspiration rate, etc. can take that data and alert the runner that they need to open/close a vent, remove sleeves, or even have the shirt self-adjust by increasing/decreasing wicking capabilities or turning on a heating element – all before the one actually experiences the adverse effects of a weather change or over-exertion. And of course, we can collect and use the data to influence r&d, product design, even marketing communications.
Although there aren’t many specifics around the technology being used in Under Armour’s touchscreen apparel, they company has confirmed that this is a real project.