OMsignal probably didn't have any trouble registering its Web domain.
The unusual company name is a reference to the Hindu mantra known as Om, and how technology is connecting all around us. The three-year-old startup makes connected clothing for workouts. Co-founder Stephane Marceau told me at CES 2015 that the company will probably expand to other clothing lines or even other products. It's garnered some attention already, and even partnered with Ralph Lauren to make a smart fitness shirt.
So what makes OMsignal a CES success story? As you can imagine with any startup, it's all about having a solid vision and a deep understanding of your industry. Good companies are birthed out of a good idea. Great companies are birthed out of great people. OMsignal is poised to pounce on the wearable-tech revolution, but sees the trend as more of an eventual reality of the connected generation than a revenue-producing fad.
"After trying a bracelet that tracks your fitness, we realized there is a real market for smart clothing," says Marceau, who co-founded the company with Frederic Chanay in Montreal in 2011. In 2014, they raised $10 million in funding through multiple investment firms.
The company's Biometric Smartwear is a shirt you wear during a workout that connects to an app, something that almost seems to have no technology involved. The fabric can read the electrical impulses from your heart. With this data, you can determine, among other things, whether you are breathing too heavily and making your heart rate rise too quickly. The smart fitness shirt looks like anything you'd purchase from the North Face.
Interestingly, Marceau says the term wearable is the actual fad, not the underlying idea of making things more connected. Soon, he says, the term will fall to the wayside, once wireless feeds are everywhere and everyone realizes how everything is connected and trackable. He says many companies in the early 1900s had a VP of electricity. One day, we'll also stop using the term wearable tech and just focus on connecting.
What does that really mean for OMsignal's revenue? As a wearable tech company making one fitness shirt, its income potential is fairly limited. There are too many competitors. Yet, being on the cusp of a connected world revolution, the company can ride a massive tidal wave. It could expand into smart goggles, smart business suits, or even smart bras. It could explore other avenues related to the connected generation.
That's a huge differentiator. I believe wearable tech could become an annoyance, but not if the industry can figure out a few things. The gadgets need to interconnect, they need to provide tangible benefits, and they need to provide a social foundation. Most important, OMsignal has an edge because you have to wear a workout shirt anyway, but might pass on a smartwatch or a bracelet you have to wear on your wrist constantly.
I'm hoping Marceau and Chanay stick with this vision. Maybe they'll make me that smart business suit.