Wednesday, February 01, 2006

FASHION TECH: The talking coat

Thus far, the marriage of technology and clothing has created abominations reminiscent of Fritz Lang as channeled by "Battlestar Galactica" - definitely not the stuff of street fashion. But now comes Audex, a line of winter jackets created in a partnership between the clothing manufacturer Burton and the cellphone maker Motorola. The jackets have a hidden network of wired and wireless connections that allows you to talk on a cellphone or listen to your iPod on the slopes. Speakers and a microphone sewn into the collar pipe sound to and from Bluetooth-compatible phones and other devices. There is even a small headphone jack near the collar for private listening. On the wrist, a large panel with an LCD screen offers caller ID and track controls, allowing you to take a call or skip ahead to a different song, even when wearing gloves. The electronics are removable for easy washing. The jackets will be sold at ski specialty stores and online for $599. There are three models - a lightweight cargo jacket, a warm down jacket and a midweight duffel jacket for women. Colors include black, khaki, blue and red and, for the duffel, a mocha plaid. A solar recharger For decades, solar power has seemed like the stepchild of the energy industry, a technology with potential but few popular uses. But now, a product called the Soldius1, made by a Dutch company, is putting solar power to use in popular gadgets. Plug your iPod or cellphone into the Soldius1 and place the charger in direct sunlight to recharge your device in two to three hours. The charger works on overcast days as well, but it takes longer. The Soldius1 does not need batteries and is small enough to fit in a pocket. Because it is powered by photovoltaic cells, it can be used anywhere there is sunlight. Available exclusively at, it can charge the iPod mini, the iPod nano and the shuffle, as well as more than 250 cellphones, including popular models from Nokia, Samsung and Motorola. The model that charges cellphones ($89.99) is red; the model for iPods ($99.99) is white. A version that can charge both kinds of devices costs $109.99 and comes in several colors. The Soldius1 is a handy alternative to searching for a free outlet. Just remember that it is not going to work if you plan to charge your devices in an office cubicle.
- Andrew Zipern (NYT)

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