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Indycar driver tests smart shirt to track the perils of racing

Tony Kanaan wore the Hitoe smart shirt during the races between June and August 2015.
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Jonathan Ferrey/Getty

Japanese mobile giant NTT DoCoMo's Data arm has revealed that it quietly tested its futuristic smart clothing during Indycar races last year. The firm teamed up with driver Tony Kanaan to create a version of its Hitoe garment that's suitable for use in the sport. As before, the shirt is capable of monitoring its wearer's heart rate and muscle activity, learning valuable insights on how the competition affects the body. For instance, Kanaan's heart rate was found to spike when he brought the car to a stop, and while driving, had the same physical stresses as someone who was sprinting.

One of the biggest hurdles that NTT had to face was to create a version of Hitoe that was made out of Nomex, the sport's approved fire-resistant material. In addition, the process of driving a car at such high speeds caused the shirt to collect a lot of junk data, thanks to the high g-forces and loud noises. It's hoped that future drivers will be able to collect insights about their bodies on a regular basis in the hope of squeezing an extra one percent out of their bodies. Let's hope that when these clothes hit the mainstream, they don't wind up doing for shirts what New Balance sneakers did for non-runners...

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