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Bio-Sensing Silver Fibers Woven into Core Fabric of Athletic Shirts

Silver is playing an important, if not critical role in the growing world of wearable technology.

At the new intersection where fashion and biometrics meet, silver provides the conduit in innovative athletic clothing that transmits sought-after biometric data, such as the wearer's real time heartbeat, to a sensor that displays the data.

The fashionable Polo Tech Shirt, introduced by Ralph Lauren at the just-completed 2014 U.S. Open Tennis Championship in New York City, and worn in its public debut by the ball boys and girls, has bio-sensing silver fibers woven directly into the core fabric of the nylon shirt. The high conductivity of silver, intertwined with the fiber of the form-fitting shirt, is a key to the technology that tracks and transmits the wearer's heart rate, stress level, distance and breathing data in real time and streams the biometric data directly to a smart phone or other device. The Polo Tech Shirt is a forerunner of a line of athletic shirts and tech-enhanced dress shirts that the company said will be available from Ralph Lauren next year.

Ralph Lauren designed and produced the high-styled Polo Tech Shirt, emblazoned with the designer's polo pony brand symbol on the front, in collaboration with OMSignals, a Canadian company pioneering the development, production and marketing of biometric sportswear, designed for athletes and others involved in intense exercise programs. OMSignal's shirt also makes use of silver's bacteria fighting properties. The shirt is made with moisture wicking fibers that keep the wearer comfortably dry. In addition to the silver blended yarns that report heart rate and breathing, the shirt's fibers are treated with an anti-microbial, silver-based solution that destroys odor-causing bacteria.

Integrating technology into everyday wear -- with the invisible silver threads -- is high on the Ralph Lauren company agenda. They expect these tech-fashion products to represent a significant slice of a projected multi-billion dollar business in contemporary street wear.

"It's yet another example of silver's versatility," said Michael DiRienzo, Executive Director of the Silver Institute. "Silver is the crucial component in so many of today's technologies -- from computers and smart phones to medical applications, solar energy, and automobiles, to name a few. Now it's at the leading edge of wearable technology," he said.


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