Our coverage around wearable power in the consumer space is usually about heating of gloves and other garments. The wearable power system from Ardica is adding a new dimension/function to heated clothing by using the available power to recharge most of the gadgets everyone is having in the pockets on a day out in the mountains: audio player, cell phones, GPS to name a few.
Ardica, a spin-off from the mechanical engineering department at Stanford University, is approaching wearable power by designing a module which can be transferred from one jacket to another if the jacket is ‘Made for Ardica’.
Needless to say, I like the modular, transferable solution as I can use the most expensive part of an wearable electronic containing garment on different styles and carry it over from season to season – assuming the technology lasts longer than the fashion style.
The first jackets using Ardica power management will come from Montain Hardwear in their 2009/10 fall/winter collection. The heating and battery elements are flat and flexible measuring about 4 x 4 inches and connect to the power source via fabric embedded wires. The Li-ion battery cells are controlled by Ardica’s ‘smart technology’ that can be configured to respond to outside activity and send heat in regulated doses.
The battery weights less than one pound and is powerful enough to give heat for up to 8 hours on low setting or could charge a cell phone around 10 times or an iPod up to 20 times.
It’s ultimately up to you to decide if you prefer to talk all day or shut up and have it cozy warm inside your jacket.
The added cost for jackets that are ‘Made for Ardica’ is expected to be around $35.- to $50.- for comparable jackets. The power heat module will be available by Ardica for $145.-
Ardica is actually on a mission to develop and commercialize small fuel-cells that can potentially be used to replace the Li-ion cells and plans to have a first version ready by 2010. We will watch out and keep you updated on the power jacket progress.