Technology in a T-shirt? Only in pro sports

INDIANAPOLIS — Many teams want to know if the prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine have heart. Thanks to a newfangled Under Armour shirt — marked by a bright, yellow button just below the chest — they can find that out and much more.

Kevin Haley, senior vice president of Under Armour, described the E39, which is making its debut at the combine, as a biometric shirt that measures heart and breathing rate, skin-surface temperature, as well as force and direction.

“The guys who are training with it are just enthralled with the ability to turn just around and look at how many G-forces they’ve generated,” Haley said. “They’ll get coaching from coaches where they couldn’t necessarily see something with the naked eye.”

Haley calls the technology a “game-changer,” because it allows teams to pinpoint a player’s burst in different game situations.

“They’re able to coach them on their technique, seeing that this guy can cut better off his right leg than he can off his left — so the player’s going to work on that left leg so he can cut equally well on both,” Haley said.

Haley said the monitor was designed by Zephyr Technology and previously used by U.S. Army Special Forces. Last October, the workers stuck in a Chilean mine for 65 days were furnished with monitors to prepare them for extraction.

“The application is limitless,” Haley said. “We’re measuring explosiveness today, but down the road, when you start thinking about soccer, lacrosse, things like that — obviously, the longer you go on, the more breathing rate becomes an issue.”

Haley said that post-combine, the next step would be providing the shirts to professional athletes, teams and, ultimately, the general public.

Marc Sessler

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