Sports fans will soon be logging more than player statistics during a game. Under Armour and Zephyr Technology have teamed up to create sensor-equipped compression shirt that measures an athlete’s performance, including heart rate, metabolism, body position, and lung capacity. But the data doesn’t just allow coaches and trainers to customize workouts without risking strain or injury; it can also be broadcast on a stadium display to engage spectators on a whole new level. Could instant recall of a player’s breathing rate or acceleration become the new bragging right?


The E39 shirt features a thin disc, roughly the size of a compact, that contains the sensors, a power source, Bluetooth transmitter, and memory storage. Coupled with fabric electrodes, the system is capable of monitoring cardiac activity, anaerobic threshold, aerobic capacity, and other vitals that indicate an athlete’s performance and health. After reviewing the metrics, coaches and trainers can learn to maximize their players’ performance, while doctors can spot warning signs such as dehydration, which can result in sudden cardiac death in young athletes.

Trainers can learn to maximize their players’ performance, while doctors can spot warning signs such as dehydration.

“That’s the trend in both medicine and sports,” Brian Russell, Zephyr’s CEO, tells MIT’s Technology Review. “Because you can measure it, you can personalize it. “You can put them in the tight training zone for peak fitness and no injury.”

Although a version of the technology is currently in use by the U.S. Special Forces, first responders, and nearly 50 college and professional sports teams across the country, the latest iteration could allow teams to display their physiological stats in real time. In addition to adding a new dimension to viewing games, betting, and crafting fantasy teams, the data could also impact sponsorships and spur competition.

“Players know that if they share data, they get better television coverage and a better contract,” says Russell. Plus, athletes seems to like the shirt’s futuristic appearance, disc and all. “They say they feel like Iron Man,” he adds.

+ E39 Compression Shirt (available in 2012)

+ Under Armour

[Via Technology Review]