The demand for fitness tracking wearables is certainly growing quickly. According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), interest in purchasing such devices quadrupled from 2012 to 2013, and new platforms are emerging that are designed to better integrate this technology onto our active lifestyles. The Glowfaster Jacket, developed by ex-marine Simon Weatherall, is designed to make monitoring performance as straightforward as throwing on an extra layer as you head out to pound the pavement.
The garment oncorporates an array of existing technologies to provide on-the-go performance feedback by illuminating lights down the jacket's front and sleeves, doubling as a safety feature for the late night joggers. A simple heart rate monitor straps around the torso, which along with GPS data gathered through a companion smart phone app, provides information to be processed by a "Gizmo" connector, which in turn controls the lights on the jacket.
The lights are bound to the jacket with double zips, meaning they can be upgraded or changed to a different color such as blue or pink, while the settings relating to performance can also be customized. Using the Glowfaster App, which according to Weatherall is iOS compatible with Android support on the way, the lights can be set to flash, spurring on the user if their heart rate or speed is falling below target, or programmed to turn a fulfilling green when everything is on track.
The Gizmo unit, for which Weatherall has a patent pending, uses Bluetooth LE (low energy) to receive data, which is then processed by a mini Arduino board. A separate pink connector is required at provide to power the jacket, though Weatherall is aiming to combine the two into one unit for the final design.
Other efforts to integrate fitness tracking technology into regular clothing items include Fraunhofer's FitnessSHIRT which uses textile electrodes to monitor performance and the BioMan Fabric which works on a similar principle. While the technology behind these products promises to take fitness tracking into new territory, Weatherall's focus lies in using standard data to provide a responsive and intuitive training experience.
The Glowfaster will be offered as either a jacket and vest, and Weatherall says it is both waterproof and windproof. He has turned to Kickstarter to take Glowfaster through the final phase of development and into commercial production. Pledges of £99 (US$165) are available with shipping estimated for July 2014 if everything goes as planned.
You can hear from Weatherall in the pitch video below.