OMsignal.com was the official website of a company with the tagline: “Technology Woven Into Life.” The company promised that the apparel it manufactured “continuously tracks your biometrics to help you connect to a fitter, healthier, happier you.” This would be accomplished through embedded sensors in the apparel that monitor your breathing, heart rate, and other health metrics (Source).
After eight years of publishing, OMsignal.com went offline. So, what happened to the company that listed Stephane Gagne (Google Quebec), Hiten Shah (Founder, KissMetrics), and Jordan Frank (Facebook) as some of its customers? We took the time to find out.
The History of OMsignal
OMsignal was founded by Frederic Chanay and Stephane Marceau in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 2011. The company reported that it was backed by leading venture capital firms in the US, Canada, and Asia. It listed “Relay Ventures, MAS Holdings, Bessemer Venture Partners, Techstars Ventures, Real Ventures, Mistral Ventures, Primera Capital, Investissement Québec, and Export Development Canada” as some of its funders (Source).
In the words of one of the co-founders, Chanay, when they conceptualized the idea of OMsignal, they “were really interested in seeing how technology, and mobile technology specifically, was going to revolutionize the world of healthcare” (Source).
OMsignal became famous for being the makers of the smart sports bra, OMbra, and the biometric technology that powered the mobile app for mindful running, OMrun. The company promised that its apparel was designed to be worn all day “without getting in the way” (Source).
In 2014, OMsignal released the OMshirt, promising “Like no shirt you’ve ever experienced, OMsignal’s re-engineered smart fabric ensures more comfort and more accurate data readings to help you get more out of your workouts” (Source).
The company said that this was achieved using quick-dry fabric and conductive yarn, which ensured accurate readings and a compressed fit that activates blood circulation and improves performance. Added to this, the shirt was manufactured to adopt the body shape, keep the wearer cool, and could be washed like any other high-performance shirt (Source).
In September 2016, OMsignal announced that it was “reinventing the way women hit the ground running with the official release of its flagship product, OMbra.” In a press release, the company indicated that the bra was embedded with sensor technology that could accurately capture the body’s deepest signals and stream the data to the user’s mobile device. The manufacturer promised that this was the “first-ever sports bra to combine accurate heart and breathing rhythms to deliver actionable insights for runners of all levels” (Source).
The Patent Infringement Lawsuit
In January 2015, OMsignal hit an obstacle. A company called Sarvint Technology Inc., based in Atlanta, Georgia, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against OMsignal and several other firms. The suit asked the court to prohibit the sale of infringing products that OMsignal was marketing. It announced that Sarvint was going to release its smart shirt to consumers in the spring of 2015 (Source).
Sarvint argued that it had the exclusive license to U.S. Patent No. 6,970,731, titled “A Novel Fabric-Based Sensor for Monitoring Vital Signs.” The suit was also filed against Adidas North America, Ralph Lauren Corporation, Victoria’s Secret Stores, Athos Works and MAD Apparel, Carre Technologies (Hexoskin), Sensoria, and Textronics (Source).
In 2017, a U.S. District judge ruled in favor of the several companies sued by Sarvint (Source).
OMsignal Secures $10 Million Funding
In the summer of 2016, OMsignal announced that it had raised $10 million in funding led by Relay Ventures. The funding arrived at the same time that the company announced that its flagship product, the OMbra, would also start shipping. The funds would be used to create distribution networks and develop other smart textiles (Source).
What then Happened to OMsignal.com?
The last archived capture of OMsignal.com was towards the end of February 2019 (Source). Soon after, the status of the website moved to “Under Construction.” By December 2019, the link was broken and returned the message “This site can’t be reached. The connection was reset. Try: Checking the connection. Checking the proxy and the firewall. Running Windows Networks Diagnostics” and “ERR_CONNECTION_RESET” whenever an attempt to reach the website was made (Source).
No information can be found regarding what eventually happened to the website or the company.
Could the disappearance of OMsignal.com be an indication that the smart textiles market is not living up to the hype? We took some time to find out if any companies were delivering the same related products as OMsignal, and discovered that there is a considerable number of such firms.
EnFlux: The EnFlux is a shirt and pants combination with ten motion censors (five on each) that collect information about the wearer and send it to an app. The company promises that with its products, “you’ll improve your form, generate more power, and get better results, whether you’re a world-class athlete or learning to lift weights for the first time. And it is as simple as putting on a shirt!” (Source)
Spire Health Tag: This brand doesn’t come with a custom-made garment. It’s just a health tag that can be attached to any of your clothes. It measures sleep, stress, activity, pulse rate, and more (Source).
Hexoskin: The Hexoskin Smart Garment measures heart rate, breathing volume, activity (cadence, steps, and calories), heart rate variability (a measure of the difference in time between each heartbeat), breathing rate, and sleep. It is also machine washable and has a 12 to 30-hour battery life (Source).
Ambiotek: According to the owners of this brand, they have a smart shirt that uses the latest ECG sensor technology to measure your “vital signs with almost medical precision and evaluates them using intelligent algorithms.” (Source).
Biostrap: This product is worn on the wrist like a wristwatch and has a display, as well as a mobile app, that shows and analyzes all measured data. It measures heart rate and heart rate variability, blood oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, sleep analysis, and over 100 activities (Source).