Safe and Warm Through the Winter


Smart wearables ensure improved safety on the road and at work

jacket heating system

A busy day for a courier means delivering as many as 250 parcels – a stressful, hectic rush. Double-park, jump out, run across the street and then straight back again. So it’s absolutely crucial for the courier to be visible at all times to other road users. Even in the winter months when there may only be 30 to 40 hours of sun. The actively illuminated safety jacket that we showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas could ensure just that. The ingenious thing here is that the battery in the prototype of the warning jacket with an optional heating function is inductively charged via a coil incorporated in the vehicle seat and is automatically activated on leaving the vehicle.

Eye-catching LED lights for safety

The energy-saving LED lights incorporated in the jacket in addition to the conventional reflectors ensure good visibility in the dark – even when the jacket is not being lit up by an external light source. Furthermore, the light function is automatically activated as soon as the driver leaves the charging station – i.e. the seat.

Enhanced comfort thanks to effective heating concept

The heating function is also about far more than just improving comfort. In delivery vehicles, which are increasingly electrically powered, the jacket heating system means the energy consumption for heating the cab can be reduced by up to 90 percent. That adds up to an extended range since the driver is heated rather than the cab.

In the future, electrically conductive materials are to be used to generate the desired warmth in the jacket without having to install a single millimeter of heating filament. This is thanks to a conductive, coatable polymer compound that is incorporated in the material by means of a printing process. If electricity flows through the material, it is directly converted to heat. “Consequently, the surface is fully warmed within seconds at the cost of a relatively low power input,” explains Dr. Erhard Barho, who is responsible for the development of functional surfaces.

Always adequately charged

Jacket illuminated by LEDs

A coil incorporated in the driver’s seat inductively charges the batteries for the LEDs and the integral heating system. This means the jacket is always adequately charged. A flexible second coil in the jacket absorbs the power from the seat coil. Various material layers safeguard the garment’s washability and limit radiation of the magnetic field to the driver. A battery powers the LEDs via wires incorporated in the fabric. The battery plus the control electronics can be housed where it is out of the way, for example in the courier’s breast pocket.

“Smart wearables such as these will revolutionize the way we use technology in everyday situations and improve safety on the road,” declares Tobias Huber, who is responsible for developing smart, functional materials. “This concept will also open up huge opportunities for the future,” he says with conviction. Because the interaction with the vehicle electronics can be expanded further. In the future, for instance, sensors in the clothing could determine data such as humidity and temperature and, based on this, actuate the automatic climate control system and the vehicle electronics.

Tobias Huber Tobias Huber is responsible for developing smart, functional materials at Continental:

„Smart wearables will revolutionize the way we use technology in everyday situations and improve safety on the road“