Continental today announced that it is unveiling two prototypes of smart wearables for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 in Las Vegas. The world premiere of the two prototypes is for a heated and actively-illuminated safety jacket, which feature LED lights for enhanced safety at work. In addition to being safe, the prototypes also offer comfort with integrated heat function that saves energy for vehicle heating. The batteries on these smart wearable technologies are inductively charged while driving.
The prototype jacket comes with eye-catching LED lights for safety, thereby ensuring good visibility at all times. This jacket is apt for employees of courier companies, emergency services, utility services staff and truck drivers, especially when loading and unloading materials. The warning jacket with LED lights and an optional heating function protects its wearer against accidents and is activated automatically on leaving the vehicle, noted Continental. It added that the energy-saving LED lights incorporated in addition to the conventional reflectors ensure good visibility in the dark, even when the jacket is not lit up by an external light source.
Continental explained that a coil incorporated in the driver’s seat inductively charges the batteries for the LEDs and the integral heating system. This ensures that the jacket is always adequately charged. In addition, 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, the company noted. A battery powers the LEDs via wires incorporated in the fabric.
These smart wearable concepts open up huge opportunities for the future, the company said. These technologies allow for interaction with the vehicle electronics to be expanded further, added Continental. 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 via the vehicle electronics.
Tobias Huber, Responsible for developing smart, functional materials at Continental, said smart wearables such as these will revolutionise the way we use technology in everyday situations and improve safety on the road. The jacket heating function is also about more than just improving comfort, since in delivery vehicles, which are increasingly electrically-powered, the energy consumption for heating the cab can be reduced by up to 90 %, he added.
In future, electrically-conductive materials will be used to generate the desired warmth in the jacket without having to install a heating filament at all. This is achievable due to a conductive, coatable polymer compound that is incorporated in the material by means of a printing process, the company explained. 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,” explained Dr Erhard Barho, responsible for the development of functional surfaces at Continental.