If you’re into the whole wearable tech thing as a way of better measuring your day to day activity and exercise then you’re probably thinking that wearable tech is all about wristbands. But Canadian company OMsignal has created a truly wearable exercise accessory – a smart shirt with sensors integrated into the garment.
Fit and comfort
I’ve worn the OMsignal Up and Running Kit that was sent to me by OMsignal on a couple of runs.
When I first received and unpacked the shirt, I thought it felt a little heavy – perhaps too thick for running in on a hot day. However, I ran on a couple of quite warm days, approaching 30 degrees Celsius, and didn’t overheat. I did notice that the shirt was very snug across most of my torso as you’d expect from a compression shirt but it was a little loose at my neck and upper chest.
I expect that is more to do with my body shape rather than a defect.
The sensor band around the chest does add a little thickness to the shirt but it wasn’t uncomfortable.
The shirt is machine washable – a good thing given it would get pretty sticky after a run or two!
The little black box
On the left side of the shirt are five press-studs that are used to connect the little black box – OMsignal’s data recorder and transmitter.
The little black box is quite small and didn’t interfere with my activity.
This is perhaps the part of the OMsignal package that I am struggling with the most.
Unlike pretty much every other fitness app on the market, OMsignal’s app doesn’t seem to talk to any other app. While tracking your exercise performance, such as heart and respiration rate are useful, being able to easily send that data to other services such as Apple Health or MyFitnessPal so that you can get a more integrated view of your complete health regimen is a big omission.
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The other hassle is that you need to carry your iPhone. According to an FAQ
…your iOS device needs to be in close proximity to your Little Black Box in order to sync. A future app iteration will allow you to store many hours of data and be synchronized with the app at a later time. We hope to have it ready for release by early 2015.
Oh – and that’s the other thing. It’s iOS only. Android support is “on the roadmap” but there’s now official ETA.
Also, we found the app a little confusing. Although it captures the data accurately, the display, while visually attractive, wasn’t all that usable.
There’s a lot to like about the OMsignal Smart Shirt. And it has great potential but my initial impression is that it’s still a product in development. Once the need to carry an iPhone is removed and the app is refined it will be a far more compelling product.
That said, I’ll be persisting with it and running a few more times before finalising my views.