AT&T is typically recognized as a company that provides mobile phones, broadband, and other cloud based services to the general public.
Recently, as part of its emerging devices unit, AT&T has created clothes that track the wearer’s heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs and upload the results to a web portal.
They will soon be available for consumers to purchase.
” Glenn Lurie, President of AT&T’s Emerging Devices division, said bio-tracking clothes tie in to the burgeoning ‘e-wellness’ trend. ‘People want this kind of feedback about their health,’ he said in an interview. ‘Automatically pushing information to a vertically integrated site makes things easier.’ “
The company plans to embed tracking technology directly into clothes. This is only possible because over time, the cost of wireless modules and devices has come down significantly. The device certification process for Lurie’s division has also been sped up, which means products are able to be brought to market faster. Both changes are encouraging more companies to bring their gadgets online, Lurie contends.
“Instead of a chest strap or bar-shaped, handheld device, there would be a small module that attaches to clothing and can be removed for washing. The garment could resemble the E39 shirts Zephyr designed with Under Armour for athletes participating in the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this year, added Lurie. AT&T would provide the wireless connectivity needed to push the gathered data to the web and smartphones.”
A picture of the E39 shirt is as follows:
While athletes may find this technology intriguing, there are healthcare related implications as well. In fact, bio-tracking clothes could appeal to first responders, like firemen and police officers, as well as the military. This, according to Lurie, would be analogous to tracking and seeing troop movements. Because the clothes are able to track basic vital signs, the well-being of key personnel could also be determined.
AT&T also believes a potential market exists with senior citizens, particularly those who are housebound and thus do not live in assisted living facilities.
“Someone needs to keep an eye, even if only remotely, on these senior citizens and clothing is likely the easiest way for an older person to wear a physiological monitor, said Lurie. AT&T also plans to sell monitors that come in watch form, for example, but a senior citizen with arthritis or mobility issues may find strapping on a watch difficult, said Lurie.”
The appeal of these devices, though, can only be appreciated if consumers know about them.
“Lurie said AT&T will stock more of these non-phone gadgets in its stores. In September, AT&T began dedicating a wall in each shop to tablets and “innovative devices.” The new gadgets will have a home there.”