Kenpo iPod Jacket
Recently I received a Kenpo iPod Jacket to try out for igargoyle. It's a slick jacket that uses fabric sensors from elektex in the left hand sleeve to control an iPod. The wiring for the controllers is the fabric, which is really cool and is also totally washable. The jacket is very comfortable and works really well, and it's great to finally own a bit of wearable technology.
When I got the jacket, I went down to the Apple store with my girlfriend to try it out with one of their iPods. I talked to the Apple guys and gals, and they were pretty impressed with the jacket. The controls are almost completely hidden, so I had to point it out to them. They had heard of the Burton jacket, but not the Kenpo, but were pretty impressed by the fact that the controls on the sleeve didn't feel any different from the rest of the jacket. I ended up buying an iPod at the urging of my girlfriend, and took it home to try out.
Connecting the iPod is easy, and fits nicely in the front left of the jacket.
Once I had my iPod set up, I hooked it up to the jacket, which was pretty straight forward. The iPod went in a pocket inside of the jacket, and connected to a small device to assist the controller. The controls themselves allow you to raise or lower the volume, go forward or backward with the tracks, and pause the device. My first thought was that this was a neat idea, but wouldn't work well because there wasn't a hold button, but apparently the jacket locks after seven seconds of inactivity, and you can unlock it by holding the track forward button for three seconds.
The controls are almost impossible to see, but they're there. I'd prefer that they'd be more visible using glow in the dark paint for the night time.
At first the controls didn't work well for me, so I emailed Kenpo, and they sent me a new jacket, which worked really well. You don't have to press on the buttons too hard, and it's really great being able to mess with the iPod without pulling it out of the jacket.
I really like wearing the jacket, and will be a bit disappointed when it starts getting warmer, because this thing doesn't have any ventilation. I imagine it would be best for people in New York or San Francisco, as it keeps you pretty toasty.
This jacket, and others like it, are clearly paving the way for wearable computing, and defining new trends in fashion. It also has the potential to be an interface for other devices with a bit of soldering, as there's no reason why the play button couldn't be reused to take a picture, or to act as a simple way to control a video iPod using a head mounted device.
I basically recommend getting this if you have an iPod, and like the style. It's going for $275 USD, and can be purchased at some Macy's, Dillard's, and Comp-USA stores, or by visiting their online store. Everyone I've shown it to has been impressed, and with new flexible displays hitting the market, I don't think it will be long unitl there's a jacket that has both controls and tells you what track or playlist you're on.
[ Link via Keith / m80im ]