Ralph Lauren aces U.S. Open with iOS-connected smart shirts

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The world’s top tennis players are descending on New York City this week to slap the fuzz off some tennis balls in pursuit of an unprecedented $38.3 million purse, and Ralph Lauren is ready to support the cause by arming the tournament’s ball boys with its new line of iPhone-connected smart shirts.

As the first round of the tournament gets underway today, the luxury clothing line announced its first move into the space of tech wearables with an entire line of smart shirts with built-in health sensors for both athletic and professional occasions.

Ralph Lauren’s sleek athletic shirt debuting at the U.S. Open this week is able to track the wearer’s heart rate, breathing and stress levels thanks to the conducted silver-coated thread and sensors woven into the fabric. The shirts connect to an iPhone or desktop app, allowing USPTA officials to keep track of the ball boys’ health should they get stuck in the middle of marathon 5-setter.

David Lauren, executive VP of advertising at Ralph Lauren, told the New York Times the shirt was made in venture with OM, and is the first of its kind from a major fashion brand.

“Everyone is exploring wearable tech watches and headbands and looking at cool sneakers. We skipped to what we thought was new, which is apparel. We live in our clothes. We want to control the technology and make it applicable to our life in a way that is refined and comfortable. Nothing clunky that you have to strap on. You’re just putting on a shirt”.

Equipping ball boys with the shirts is just the first move for the brand, which plans to launch an entire line of tech wearables in 2015, including traditional mens dress shirts with health sensors, though no word on pricing has been given.

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Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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