Right now, you might wear a Nike+ Fuelband, a FitBit Flex, a Withings Pulse, or a Jawbone Up. But as neat as these activity trackers may be, their view is inherently limited. It’s from your wrist or waistband. To delve deeper into our own analytics, we’ll need to electrify our clothing.
The Sensoria Smart Sock, by Heapsylon, is a wearable electronic that should feel extremely familiar: Because at its heart, the system is a pretty normal-looking sock that you might not even realize was laced with soft textile sensors. These sensors can track precise foot falls in real time, allowing runners to analyze their technique with incredible fidelity. And when the run is over, the socks work like any other garment–just toss them into the washing machine to launder them.
“In the near future the garment will become the computer,” explains Heapsylon co-founder Davide Vigano. “Very soon we won’t need to carry with us any additional electronic device because the technology will disappear to the human eye, it will be comfortable and easy to remember. It will be built into our clothes.”
Or, in other words, all of this analytic tracking could become a very passive activity, eventually even independent of athletic gear, glowing LEDs, and black rubber. But for the meantime, Sensoria’s textile technology–which was developed by two former members of Microsoft’s Xbox team–does require a magnetic ankle bracelet to supply power and provide additional information like acceleration.
Vigano is confident that his anklet will become a fashion accessory worn to match the outfit. I’m not so certain. While we may have tolerance for one Fuelband-style tracker on our body, wearables in their current state–and colors!–provide an extremely limited aesthetic compared to real, diverse, fashionable jewelry and accessories that people change on a whim. It might be reasonable to wear one piece of black rubber, but 2 or 3? Every day? We begin to see why these subtle, passive designs like plain-old socks will be so appealing.
The Sensoria Smart Sock is on Indiegogo now. You can pre-order a pair of three for $60, but the anklet will push the price into the low triple digits.
[Hat tip: BusinessWeek]