You've got a smartphone and you've heard of smartwatches, but what about smart coats? The folks at Motiif are developing just that with their new smart trench coat. Dubbed the "M," the coat offers a built-in 4G data connection and smartphone charger wrapped in a sleek, waterproof design. An available smartphone app will integrate with the coat and provide you with weather information and advise you if and when you should wear the M.
Motiif founder Rafael Balbi says the M's data connection will come by way of Karma's pay-as-you-go network and include 1GB of free data per month for the first three months you have the coat. After three months, you'll pay $14 for each 1GB of data used. Karma rides on Sprint's 4G network, and is available in 80 U.S. cities, reaching as many as 135 million people. Average download speeds range from 3 to 6 Mbps, with spikes as high as 10 Mbps. Uploads can reach 1.5 Mbps.
According to Balbi, the coat's internal charging dock will work with the iPhone 4, iPhone 5s and both Samsung's Galaxy S III and Galaxy S4. To charge a phone, users simply slide their handset into the coat's breast pocket and connect it to the charging dock. Though having a charging station in your coat sounds uncomfortable, Balbi assures that it will remain fairly invisible. "It's not going to be bulky," he said. The charger is expected to offer enough juice to charge your handset three times over. To recharge the coat users will be able to simply hang it on a hanger with its included wireless charging pad.
Though the coat is still in development, Balbi says it should be ready to launch by February 2014. To prepare for the coat's debut, Motiif is accepting applicants for an alpha tester program. Participants will get a behind the scenes look at how the coat is made, speak with engineers and attend events where they can try the M on. Eventually, Balbi says Motiif will select a handful of alpha testers to wear the coat for one to two weeks at a time, after which they'll give the company their impressions of the M based on their experiences.
Balbi isn't content with just creating a smart coat, however. He sees the M as the first step to creating a complete smart wardrobe. "This isn't just a coat with charging and Wi-Fi, it's about the future of clothing ... and how clothing will communicate with each other and the end user," Balbi said. "We are building it, because it's an entry point for a system of wearable technology we are developing that lets the user learn more about themselves and what's going on in the environment around them."
Pricing for the M has not yet been announced, but Balbi says it shouldn't cost more than your average trench coat. Based on our research, that is likely to be between $100 and $300. Interested in Motiif's alpha tester program? Check out the company's website at www.motiif.us for more information.