SmartPhones, SmartWatches, Now SmartClothes?

It can be hard work to stay in shape but now a line of smart clothing has promised to give the wearer the help he or she needs. Clothes as well as shoes fitted with devices that record fitness are set to explode in growth in their move from the testing lab to the professional athlete. That means the keen amateur is not far behind.

Fitness is an expanding market already for many tech companies. Online research firm Gartner forecasts that wearable devices focused on fitness will see shipments exceed 68 million in 2015, with the industry broadening its range from wristbands to clothing and shoes.

Fitbit and Jawbone popularized the smart bands, which today are the most used fitness trackers. Smartwatches such as the one just launched by Apple are expected to move into the fitness market in a huge way over the upcoming years. However, the largest growth is predicted to come from smartclothes.

Gartner is expecting shipments of the products to reach 26 million units during 2016, which would be up from 100,000 during 2014. Lechal, a startup in India is one company hoping to make it big in this industry. Originally set up to help those visually impaired with navigating, its insoles and shoes vibrate to tell the user to turn right or left.

The wearer can set up a custom route which will make the footwear buzz so they maintain their course.

The fitness metrics for Lechal are basic: they can track distance, steps and calories, which are stored and then downloaded to another app following exercise. The footwear starts at $200, while the insoles start at $150. Later this year, the products should be available in U.S. stores.

Glofaster is attempting to take wearables for fitness to the next level as well. The company is a maker of a jacket, for runners, that is fitted with a device that collects data on the runner’s performance. Users set their goals such as level of heart rate and spend, and the lights on the sleeve flash to give the wearer his or her feedback.

However, the jacket does not come cheap. The retail price is $418, but that includes the sensor. The high price reflects the conviction the company has that amateur athletes are willing to hand over large sums of money for fitness devices that are sophisticated.

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