Self-heating jacket uses machine learning to keep its owner comfy
We've seen a number of smart home thermostats over the past few years that learn just how toasty you like your living room, but these won't do much good when you venture out the front door. Boston apparel company Ministry of Supply wants to bring this kind of personalized climate control to people on the move, launching a heated jacket that tunes its temp in line with user preferences, and has a few other handy tricks up its sleeves as well.
Made from a mix of polyester and polyurethane, the Mercury jacket itself is waterproof, windproof and odor resistant. Its creators say it can be used as a regular jacket, and because the carbon fiber heating elements inside weigh just 100 g (3.5 oz), you shouldn't notice them too much during everyday use.
But as a default, when the USB chargeable 10,000-mAh battery is plugged in, the Mercury will begin to heat up the moment you put it on. It is pre-programmed to respond to the wearer's temperature and motion using a built in accelerometer and body heat sensor, so it might make adjustments depending on whether you're walking or standing still, for example.
We've seen a few heated garments before, including USB-powered hoodies and ones with automated temperature adjustment settings. The plant-inspired Omius jacket is the one that most closely resembles the Mercury jacket, in that it also uses AI to learn a user's preferences over time, and even automatically opens up small vents as a way of regulating temperature.
The Mercury jacket does have a few new bells and whistles, however. It too uses machine learning to acquaint itself with the user's preferences. The more feedback given to the jacket, apparently the better it will get at making automatic adjustments to keep the temperature inside at the optimal level, right up to 57° C (135° F).
It can be controlled by a smartphone app, but it also comes with support for Amazon Alexa, so conceivably, you could bark at a speaker like the Echo to pre-heat the garment as you get ready to head outdoors. It also comes with a Qi wireless charger built into one of the pockets, meaning that when you slip your smartphone in there it will start drawing on the jacket's battery to stay topped up (assuming the phone supports wireless charging, of course).
Other nifty features include heated hand warmer pockets, a hood, jet black and navy color options and the fact that the tech-heavy jacket is safe to put through the washing machine (we assume with the battery removed). That battery is said to be good for four-and-a-half hours of heating at maximum output, or up to an entire week when used economically.
Currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, Ministry of Supply is looking to raise US$72,000 for the production of the Mercury jacket and has flown past that goal, with $175,000 raised at the time of writing. Early pledges of $195 are still available, and the company plans to start shipping in November this year if the rest of the campaign runs as planned.
You can check out the pitch video below.
Source: Ministry of Supply