It was only a matter of time… fancy lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret is now selling a sports bra for around $75 with built in electrodes that hook up to a heart rate monitor. Sign of our wearable tech times.
Smart garments were recently identified by analyst Gartner as the fitness wearable with the “greatest potential for growth” – vs other device types such as smart wristbands, sports watches and chest straps – ith the rational being that the smart garment category is emerging from the testing phase and starting to find its way into products.
Built in tech is also hidden from view – which makes it more aesthetically pleasing than the parade of ugly plastic wristbands that have characterized the early years of this space. So smart garments may well be a natural counterbalance reaction to a surfeit of ugly fitness wearables.
Gartner is projecting shipments of smart garments will grow from practically nothing (0.1 million units) in 2014, to 26 million in 2016. However how smart these garments are remains to be seen, given that clothes need washing regularly and electronics generally don’t like taking that kind of punishment.
Whether this Victoria’s Secret sports bra would be defined by Garner as a smart garment is another matter. It does not contain a heart rate monitor itself – just a pair of electrodes that connect your skin and allow a heart rate monitor to be hooked up to the other side.
The product description is light on compatibility details, saying the electrodes will fit “most clip-on heart rate monitors from leading brands” – presumably those that already come with a belt, such as this Garmin model.
A Victoria’s Secret customer rep was unable to elaborate any further on compatibility, saying she did not know which models the bra is compatible with, and adding that the product only does away with the need to wear a separate “belt”.
So it sounds like the early years of ‘smart garments’ could squander any aesthetic advantage by combining it with some not-so-smart customer service.