If you listen to the the digital prophets, the future is all about wearable computers and smart clothing and, uh, internet-connected kettles. That might be true by the time the robots have taken over, but right now, most 3-D printed dresses or wearable technology is part marketing start, part terrible abomination that should never have left a lab.
In case you can’t tell, I’m a little skeptical about anything that claims to be smart clothing. But after playing with a technology-wielding cycling jacket from startup Lumo, I don’t really want to wear dumb clothing any more.
Lumo‘s clothing and bags are only good, in my opinion, because you don’t really notice the technology until you need it. They make a jacket, gilet and bag that hide waterproof LED strips, powered by a rechargeable battery, that make sure you get seen on your bike.
But even if you stripped the lights out, you’d have a great cycling jacket. The company is currently fundraising for a new range of clothing on Kickstarter, but even the older jacket I tried has a sleek and well-thought-out set of features. The main pockets are zippered, which means you can hide away your wallet while riding without losing it. The collar uses a magnetic closure to keep your chin warm, and another magnetic-closure pocket around the back provides quick access to your phone.
It also looks good, and most importantly, you can’t see the LEDs unless they’re on. I showed it off to a few of my friends as “a new jacket” without mentioning it lit up or had cycling-specific features, and everyone approved of the fashion. This is the best thing you can really say about wearable technology. It’s there when you need it, and when you don’t, it doesn’t make you look like an insufferable nerd.
The new jacket, messenger bag and gilet are available on Kickstarter for a little while longer. Backing Kickstarter projects is always a little bit of a risky business, but going with a company that has successfully produced a product before (and isn’t promising to defy the laws of physics) increases your chances of success rather dramatically.