OMsignal Opens Pre-Orders For Smart Shirts That Track Activity, Fitness And Stress

After raising $1 million last year and debuting its smartwear clothing-embedded sensor tech, Montreal-based OMsignal is now ready to start accepting orders from customers. Its first product is the OM shirt, with four new models going up for pre-order today including an undershirt, sleeveless shirt, t-shirt and long-sleeved shirt for men.

Each of these new shirts tracks your heart rate, breathing rate, breathing volume, movement (step counter), calories burned movement intensity and heart rate information. They track a lot more information than your average wristband or other type of dedicated device, and they also resemble ordinary shirts and don’t add any additional bulk to accommodate the sensor tech they include. A small module clips into the shirt to provide power (for up to two to three days of normal use) and communicate wirelessly with the OMsignal app on your smartphone, but this is not much larger than your average health tracker and one unit works with multiple OMsignal shirts.

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The initial line is designed to appeal to a range of different types of use cases, including worn under clothing for everyday activities, and dedicated sportswear. OMsignal’s shirts are made to offer up more types of information for athletes, including heart rate zone tracking for training, and some proprietary measures, like OM Fuel (how much energy you have remaining before you get tired) and OM RPM (level of focus and stress). All data is tracked and visualized in the OMsignal app for long-term monitoring.

Shirts come in small through extra large sizes, in a few different colors and styles, and are compression garments made with moisture wicking fabric, like high-quality training and running shirts.

OMsignal’s tech comes with heavyweight expertise in health and fitness behind it, including Dr. Jesse Slade Shantz, the company’s Chief Medical Officer, who is a practicing surgeon. Shantz sees value in OMsignal gear offering up insight into stress levels in doctors performing delicate operations, for instance, though they’re targeting the consumer market first.

I asked CEO and founder Stephane Marceau why they targeted menswear first, and about their plans for offering female-friendly models in the future.

“[With men] the bar on fit and fashion is not as high,” he explained. “Womens’ shapes vary a lot, and the fashion bar is especially high for women. We figured it out in trials, and it came as clear feedback that women expected more personalized preferences than men on that front.”

The company wanted to focus more on nailing the tech and keeping design simple with this initial line, Marceau said. They did work with designers with experience at Nike, Under Armour and Quicksilver for these looks, but the bulk of the work was focused on tackling tough tech problems. A launch of a women’s line is planned for this fall.

The men’s shirts will ship starting this summer, and are available in packages that include the little black box and shirts starting at $199, with each additional shirt retailing on its own for between $100 and $140. The black box on its own is $140. Those prices aren’t all that easy to swallow, even for people with particularly expensive taste in high performance workout wear, but their relatively innocuous exterior does hid some considerable embedded tech so it’s no surprise these aren’t cheaper.

Current wearables are seen by many as an interstitial tech, making the transition between external devices and embedded gadgets easier. OMsignal is among the first to deliver even more invisible wearable hardware, so it’ll be interesting to see if it can pick up some strong consumer traction.