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Ralph Lauren Gets Into Wearables Game With 'Polo Tech'

Ralph Lauren, partnering with OMsignal, is testing out new biometric-reading shirts called "Polo Tech" on ball boys at the U.S. Open.
Posted at 10:18 PM, Aug 25, 2014

​The Ball Boy. Constantly in the shadow of the tennis players they so faithfully follow.

You may not know it, but they’re under a lot of pressure — and Ralph Lauren plans to measure it. 

How? With its new “Polo Tech” t-shirt. At this year’s U.S. Open, ball boys will be helping Ralph Lauren test out its foray into wearable tech.

The pony-emblazoned shirts will have sensors that can detect biometrics like heart rate or breathing. That data can then be viewed on a smartphone or tablet.

Ralph Lauren teamed up with OMsignal, a Canadian tech company that launched earlier this year and developed the technology behind the Polo Tech shirts.

David Lauren, Ralph's son and the company's marketing VP, told The New York Times: "Everyone is exploring wearable tech watches and headbands and looking at cool sneakers. We skipped to what we thought was new, which is apparel."

Ralph Lauren partnering with OMsignal is part of a larger trend where tech companies are partnering with fashion companies to the benefit of both. The same thing has been happening with other companies over the past few months.

In June, Google Glass teamed up with fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg to create some chic alternatives to the standard Google Glass experience.

Tory Burch did something similar to Ralph Lauren by introducing a collaboration with Fitbit, making bracelets and necklaces into fitness trackers.

And in early August, TechCrunch reported that HP teamed up with fashion designer Michael Bastian and the fashion sales site Gilt to create a flashy smartwatch that'll debut some time this fall.

The fashion and tech industries are even poaching each others' talent pool, as The Wall Street Journal reported in June.

But the kind of partnership OMsignal and Ralph Lauren have made may turn out to be particularly fruitful according to a writer at GigaOM"The real opportunity for mainstream wearable adoption is in making the things we already use in our day-to-day lives smart, without adding a lot of bulk and costs."

​Of course, that means getting the kind of tech they're testing off the ball boys or athletes and onto their average consumer — something Ralph Lauren says it plans to do in the near future.

This video contains images from Getty Images.