Review: The Arrow Smart Shirt

A shirt that can access your smartphone


The Smart Shirt works through wireless communication and the Arrow app.
The Smart Shirt works through wireless communication and the Arrow app.

When we think of smart wearables, chances are that we now immediately think of smartwatches that run the phone’s apps, and wristbands that track how much we have walked all day. Apparel brand Arrow is trying to widen that definition, however, and it involves something most of us wear to work: the good old formal shirt.

Arrow’s latest range of Smart Shirts, enabled with near-field communication (NFC) chips, can be paired with your Android smartphone. 

NFC is a wireless electronic communication method between two compatible devices, to send and receive information—most Android phones now have this feature by default. The Smart Shirt uses the NFC chip that is placed securely inside the cuff of the left sleeve. You cannot access this tiny chip in the shirt though; it’s hidden between the layers of fabric. Regular washing does not damage it.

If you want to pair the shirt with your Android phone, the latter needs to have the NFC feature built in, and you need to download the free Arrow app from the Google Play store. iPhone users, however, will have to sit this one out because iPhones do not support NFC yet.

Once you download the app, you will be taken through a step-by-step process to set up your profile. The app can be configured with your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts as well. Once this is done, you can configure certain tasks by simply tapping the left cuff of your Smart Shirt. For example, we configured the chip, using the Arrow app, to open the BlackBerry Hub email app on the OnePlus 3 smartphone we were using for testing.

For this to work, the phone’s screen must be switched on; then you can simply tap the shirt to open the apps quickly. This one-tap access to apps makes it convenient if you want to access certain apps frequently during the day while at work.

You can even configure it to play your favourite music, either on the phone or on any paired Bluetooth speaker. We were able to pair with the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay S3 speaker. The Arrow app, however, will only pick the playlists from the Google Play music app. It currently does not integrate with music-streaming apps such as Saavn, which could be a limitation if your entire library of tunes is from this particular app. 

The Arrow app also has a feature known as Phone Modes, which lets you change the sound profile of the Android phone and also turn on/off some of the features on the device. For example, there is the work profile, within which you can choose to configure the brightness level of the phone’s display, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. 

Putting the technology aside, it still remains a shirt, and style and comfort matter. The Smart Shirt delivers on both accounts. The material used is cotton, and it is available in regular and slim-fit sizes, with multiple colour options. Breathability is quite good, which is useful during the Indian summer. 

The Arrow Smart Shirt is priced at Rs2,999, and could be an interesting wearable for work. The next time you want to put your smartphone on silent mode before entering a meeting, just tap on the cuff of your Smart Shirt.

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