02 PM | 28 Aug

US Open Ball Boys are Ralph Lauren’s Lab Rats

ralph-lauren

When the US Open tennis tournament begins today in New York, most eyes will be glued to marquee players like Roger Federer, Serena Williams, and Novak Djokovic. But as aces and forehands rocket across the net at Arthur Ashe Stadium, executives at Ralph Lauren will be focused on the court’s periphery, where some ball boys will be wearing new, technology-enhanced shirts to monitor their biometric data.

As the New York Times reports, this year’s US Open marks the debut of Ralph Lauren’s new Polo Tech shirt — a black, nylon tee equipped with sensors to track the vital signs of every ball boy. Created as part of a venture with OMsignal, the shirt looks unassuming at first glance: black, tight, and splashed with the company’s classic polo insignia. But woven into the fabric is a conductive silver-coated thread and an array of sensors that monitor the ball boy’s breathing, heart rate, and stress levels, among other indicators. These data are collected in a “black box” attached to the shirt and can be monitored on a smartphone app. This black box appears to be the same bluetooth-based module that OMsignal announced earlier this year. The big difference is that this one has a yellow pony next to it.

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