U.S. Open Ball Boys Will Be Wearing Smart, Connected Shirts

Later today, the first balls will be served at the U.S. Open. But this year, the ball boys retrieving all those missed shots will be under closer scrutiny than usual: they'll be dressed in nylon Ralph Lauren T-shirts lined with conductive silver-coated thread and sensors, recording all of their biometric data.

In a venture with OM, Ralph Lauren is providing the ball boys with shirts that will monitor heart rate, breathing and stress levels, allowing officials to keep an eye on the youngsters. David Lauren, director of marketing and corporate communications for the Ralph Lauren company and a son of the designer, explains:

"Everyone is exploring wearable tech watches and headbands and looking at cool sneakers. We skipped to what we thought was new, which is apparel. We live in our clothes."

Indeed, the decision to equip ball boys with these shirts is a first step. Speaking to the New York Times, Lauren explained that 2015 will see the company launch a range of clothing—including classic dress shirts as well athletic wear—containing the smart technology of OM. While the garments don't have price tags yet, it's clear decision to make wearable technology more convenient than watches and glasses.

Indeed, the idea of making everything you drape from your body smart is really beginning to gain traction. And we can see why: the convenience offered by having to do nothing more than slip on a shirt before your activity is tracked is really quite compelling. We're just not sure if we're ready to wear Ralph Lauren just yet. [NYT]

Image by AP