What’s inside the Little Black Box?

By | November 25, 2014
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My heart rate? 53 beats per minute. My lungs have exhaled and inhaled 16 times per minute as I sit down with my coffee to write this post. How am I telling you all this? Maybe I have a strap attached…or a watch. Maybe I am sitting at the doctors? The answer is no, nada and no again. I know all of this because of the shirt that I am wearing. The Little Black Box.

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Allow me to amaze you all by introducing you to the OMSignal fitness shirt (Popularly called the Little Black Box) – biometric smartwear according to Stephane Marceau, the CEO of OMSignal. The OMSignal is brilliant, and it’s indigenous. It is using textile to capture activity, which also includes steps and extrapolated calorie burn. Inside this heavy-duty compression shirt are conductive fibers that transmit biometric signals to a small box attached to the shirt.

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The Little Black Box, as it’s called, takes data from the shirt and wirelessly sends it to a corresponding iOS app. The box also contains an accelerometer and gyroscope to give a fuller picture of your activity, so not all of your data comes directly from the shirt. What’s amazing is that you can actually get any activity from a wearable that’s nice to wear — either when working out or during the day under another shirt — and in the form of something universal: Clothing, in this case.

The OMSignal app is well-designed as well. On the main screen you can see your real-time heart and breathing rate; a swipe from the right will show your total calories and steps taken as well. The app has a four-minute fitness test included, taking your heart rate up to 140 beats a minute and then measuring how quickly your rate decreases after ceasing activity.

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The shirt can be washed like any other in a washing machine, even though it has a lot of technology on it. You’ll have to remove the The Little Black Box since there are electronics housed inside. After you’ve washed the OMSignal shirt, you just re-attach the box before your next workout. When I was working out or running, the box never got in my way; it’s relatively thin, tapered and snaps to the left side of your chest on the shirt. The shirt feels very heavy-duty, high quality and substantial. It has to maintain good skin contact to effectively measure your activity. The box has a rechargeable battery and a microUSB charging port; the shirt comes with a cable for charging. When you work out, the box never gets in your way. It’s pretty thin, tapered and snaps to the left side of your chest. Iron Man, anyone?



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So, how much does it cost to feel like Iron Man? A starter kit with compression shirt, charging cable and box costs $199.99 direct from the company. Once you have the box, though, you can add more sensing shirts for as little as $79.99 since it uses the same snap mechanism. The price might put some people off, but hey, if you have to wear a shirt, why not wear one that makes you feel like a superhero?