The bra came first. It was an otherwise ordinary compression sports bra, but for two small differences: metal snaps at the lower center and copper-colored threads woven into the inside band. I yanked it down around my rib cage, snapped in a heart rate monitor, launched an app on my phone, connected it to the bra via Bluetooth, and began my workout. Why buy a chest-strap heart rate monitor when you can get the same functionality from a bra, which you have to wear anyway? Smart clothing suddenly seemed, well, very smart.
Soon after, I found myself wearing a tank top that calculated my respiration rate, a pair of capris that knew I could handle more weight during squat drills, socks that scolded me when I ran flat-footed, and a piece of jewelry that reminded me when my period was due.
As a fitness tracker expert, I was excited to throwaway step-counting wristbands in favor of a great pair of leggings that could capture the same data, and more. It only makes sense to embed sensors into the very fabric we already wear every day. But my initial fascination with smart clothing began to wear thin when I stopped thinking about them as new toys and felt how itchy, ugly, and ill-fitting some of them were. And as with any other clothing, I worried certain pieces were completely unflattering. Add to that the fact that these sensors on my body were observing my every step and breath, and suddenly, it was a lot to bear.
Connected clothing shows so much promise as a category, but it has to work for women to be a success. So, what's it like to actually wear a bra that talks back? The future awaits, ahead!