All I want for Christmas is… a smart jacket

All I want for Christmas is… a smart jacket

With Christmas fast approaching aren’t we all looking for new gift ideas? But forget warm socks and reindeer pullovers, there is a new generation of clothes that can keep you warm (and I mean really warm) and give you a new, unique experience.

Urban biking in style

In May Levi Strauss announced the Levi’s® Commuter™ Trucker jacket. It results from a year-long cooperation between the Levi’s Innovation team and Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. It is a stylish denim jacket designed with cyclists in mind. It allows them accessing their phone and apps by simply touching the jacket’s sleeve. Users can answer or silence calls, adjust music volume and get navigation information. They can choose their favourite functions depending on their needs and program the device accordingly.

The jacket implements the Google ATAP’s Project Jacquard technology. Through weaving of conducive yarns into a textile material Google achieved a fully interactive fabric that can be used for clothing and home products.

The conductive yarn is made by spinning of thin, metallic alloys with any other yarn, natural and synthetic, such as cotton, polyester or silk. The conducive yarn can be used to weave an entire surface of the fabric or, as it is the case of the Commuter jacked, only a small part of it. The jacket includes tiny invisible connectors and circuits that capture touch interactions. After a detachable tag is removed, the jacket is washable just like any other denim jacket.

Unfortunately it won’t be available for Christmas, Levi’s announced that they will ship in spring 2017.

Style and functionality can go together 

Emel + Aris is a young brand that manages to perfectly combine technology, quality and aesthetics. Their beautifully crafted coats are made in the UK of high-quality Italian fabrics. They come in two versions, a light cotton trench coat and a heavier coat made with cashmere and wool (both for men and for women).

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Two styles, a lightweight men’s trench and a wool-cashmere women’s coat, photos courtesy of EMEL+ARIS

Their appearance reveals nothing about the technology hidden inside: the coats have a lightweight heating system integrated under the lining that can keep you warm for up to 5 hours (this is the battery life). What is even better is that the technology uses far infrared (FIR) heat, which is known for health-enhancing benefits. Just like an infrared sauna, the coat can help reducing pain, increase blood flow, reduce muscle pain and various inflammations.

Additionally, the FIR is the safest source of heat. The coat cannot overheat and it has four pre-set temperatures. If you worry about carrying a heavy battery on your back, this is not the case: the battery weights about 100 grams. It is the same battery as the one used in laptops so it’s perfectly safe to carry it on a plane.

EMEL + ARIS Smart Coat is the perfect example of a user-driven innovation, addressing a clear need by means of a functional and stylish product. Definitely high on my wishlist!

Keeping warm in extreme conditions

If you are looking for something more casual to wear on cold days the Narvik jacket is for you.

The jacket uses the smart fabric ThermalTech, a specially coated 100% stainless steel mesh that, when exposed to sunlight or body heat, will rapidly heat up.

This smart fabric uses UV (sunlight) and infrared (body heat) radiation and increases in temperature by 18 degrees Fahrenheit within 2 minutes of continuous absorption. The fabrics are breathable to regulate the temperature and prevent overheating. In any case the jacket only captures energy needed to reach your body’s natural warm temperature point.

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Narvik solar-powered jacket using the ThermalTech fabric, photos courtesy of Narvik Works

The advantage is that there are no wires and no batteries you have to charge. No risk that the heating stops even when you are out for many hours. The jacket can be machine-washed and it’s not necessary to remove any parts beforehand.

The jacket comes in different styles, for instance a simple, urban style or a more extreme version, with integrated hood and gloves, perfect for more rough conditions and winter adventures.

Opening door to exclusive experiences

A very different jacket was born out of cooperation between packing materials company Avery Dennison, IoT platform maker Evrything and NY label Rochambeau, finalists of the 2016 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.

The Bright BMBR is a stylish bomber that allows its user to unlock a unique set of curated experiences, such as concerts, exhibitions, restaurant dining and shopping. This is possible thanks to a hidden label containing near-field communication (NFC) that allows communication with a smartphone and QR tags (barcodes). Bringing your smartphone close to the sleeve will unlock the experiences and collect special gifts (this happens when you are in proximity to the New Stand). And a cherry on the cake: the wearer will be also able to access Rochambeau’s NYFW runway show in 2017.

To add even more exclusivity to the experience, there will be only 15 jackets in the limited edition. Their owners will become members of a secret, exclusive club. Who knows, maybe the brand will also think of somehow connecting the wearers, so they can meet or communicate about their experience.

The Bright BMBR is currently available for preorder with a set of cool places to discover in New York although Rochambeau duo is already planning a Paris version. Definitely the coolest of the pack!

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