When it comes to what we wear, nothing's what it seems to be anymore. Wristwatches are tiny computers, eyeglasses house embedded heads-up displays, and now Google's Project Jacquard is weaving touch-sensitive materials into regular-looking fabrics
. Levi's just revealed its upcoming Commuter jacket, which taps into Jacquard to allow wearers to use its sleeves as touch interfaces for connected gadgets.
While that Levi's Commuter jacket looks pretty cool, and we're sure that Project Jacquard will deliver all sorts of similarly impressive wearables in the future, the jacket's not quite available just yet – we're set to see a beta version land in the fall, with the full commercial release not following until the spring of next year.
Even if you've got a while to wait before you can check out that Jacquard action for yourself, there are plenty of existing garments that are designed with today's busy smartphone user in mind
, offering all sorts of customizations to support your mobile-gadget-driven lifestyle. Let's take a look at some of the most interesting wearables (with a capital W) you can pick up today.
If you've ever found yourself fretting, “where am I going to find the room to carry all these gadgets?” look no further than SCOTTeVEST's ample line of pocket-laden clothing.
From hats, to shirts, to even pants, SCOTTeVEST offers all sorts of clothing with enough pockets to store the gear you need. If you only need a little space, you can go with a t-shirt with three hidden pockets within, but for the serious gadget fiend, you'll want to check out an option like this RFID Travel Vest, with an impressive 26 pockets for storing and organizing everything from memory cards to tablets.
This model offers some extra peace of mind with its RFID-blocking pocket for your credit cards or passport, but we're mainly interested in the sheer amount of carrying capacity the vest offers; who needs a backpack?
Maybe a whole garment loaded with pockets to store your gear isn't for you – you've already got enough clothing. Instead, you need an accessory that allows you to keep your existing look while augmenting it with extra smartphone storage. Enter: LD West and its holster system.
The LD West Holster gives users a pair of easily accessibly pouches, one under each arm. You can keep a smartphone in one, and use the other to store the included holster-friendly wallet, freeing up your pants or jacket pocket in the process.
Heck, you can even go a little crazy (as some of us have been known to) and carry two phones at once. Got a separate work and business handset? No problem.
You don't have to wait for Project Jacquard to benefit from the fusion of phone-connected sensors and clothing, and even today you can find plenty of options that gather data from all over your body and relay it right to your phone.
Athos focuses on fitness gear with its wearables, delivering garments that measure muscle activity and heart rate. The company has options for both men and women, including shirts and pants, as well as the “Core” module you'll need for that smart clothing to interact with your phone – and the Full Body Package delivers all of that together.
Sure, at $150 for shorts, $200 for a shirt, and another $200 for the Core unit, the expense adds up quick, but for athletes looking to get detailed data on how individual muscle groups are responding to workout routines, that info could be invaluable.
The smart clothing market has matured to the point where users have a ton of options. Say you want to keep an eye on your heart rate while exercising; a reasonable enough request. You can slap on any number of smartwatches or dedicated fitness wristbands; you could gear up with one of those Athos shirts we just looked at; you could even wear a chest strap under your workout clothing of choice.
LifeBEAM throws another option in the mix, delivering a series of heart-rate and cadence-measuring headwear. There's a standard baseball hat, a lightweight visor, and even a bicycle helmet, all featuring embedded optical heart-rate sensors and three-axis accelerometers.
They pair not only with your favorite fitness apps on Android and iOS smartphones, but also with stand-alone fitness wearables from the likes of SUUNTO and Garmin.
Crowdfunding sites are full of connected-clothing options that promise some really awesome-looking accessories; want some e-ink sneakers? They're on their way. But we're talking about clothing you can get now, which seriously limits what we have to pick from. Ravean's been funding its lineup of wearables since last year, but now they're finally about to ship, making them worthy of inclusion here.
The company's designed a series of heated down jackets and hoodies, incorporating their own batteries and connecting to optional heated gloves. That sounds like a nice way to survive a cold winter, but Ravean ups the ante by also letting your smartphone tap into those same power reserves.
There may not be a connected app to control the temperature with your phone, but between the ability to recharge your phone up to six times on one battery pack (which of course will decrease if you're also running the heater) and touchscreen-friendly fabric for the heated gloves, this sounds like a solid option for smartphone users in colder climates.