Living in Cape Town, one of the biggest frustrations is knowing what to wear. It might look sunny and feel warm now, but you never know when that gust of wind or the next cold front is going to strike, leaving your t-shirt and flip-flops outfit looking a little ridiculous. So in a city that goes through four different seasons in one day, it would be nice to have an outfit that could handle all of them and still have you look cool doing it… Oh, who cares about looking cool, just having that outfit would be good enough!
And startup company Omius Tech believes they have the answer to this with a jacket that uses artificial intelligence and robotics to automatically adjust your personal temperature during changing weather events or activity levels. It certainly looks and sounds creepy, but this could be the fashion statement of the future.
New Atlas reports that the inspiration for the jacket none other than Mother Nature itself as the researchers looked at how plants regulate their own temperature through microscopic pores called stomata. In plants, these pores open and close to let specific gases in and out, which the jacket is looking to mimic in a less microscopic way.
The stomata system on this waterproof and windproof jacket is instead quite visible. These slit-like vents run up and down the chest and upper back of the jacket. However, while all these slits would typically seem cumbersome to open and close manually, this jacket will electronically open and close these vents based on a sensor which measures your body and ambient temperature. It’s quite high-tech, as the jacket requires its own built-in processor and robotic hardware to work effectively.
Omius CEO Gustavo Cadena describes how this technology is intended to work to find the optimum amount of ventilation for you:
Machine learning algorithms let us map out the comfort preferences of each user, allowing the jacket to automatically adapt its protection to the user’s preferences, maintaining always the right temperature. Over time, the jacket will become an extension of the user, synchronizing its movements with the rest of the body, just like a second skin.
The jacket will include pressure sensors which will allow the wearer to open and close vents as needed in certain situations, which helps the system to learn the wearer’s preferences and over time this should not be required.
While it might seem overkill at first for people envisioning this for small walks, it can become really useful on longer hikes in the mountains or when spending lengthy amounts of time outdoors with the weather and wind constantly changing. The additional hardware for the device reportedly only adds an extra 100g of weight to the clothing (less than your mobile device) which means it is unlikely to impact your mobility in any way.
There is no indication on what the Omius jacket would be priced at, but it will no doubt be expensive once it is released. Hopefully by the time it comes to the South African market, the costs of the technology will be greatly reduced.