Once upon a time, it was only a farfetched dream that our clothes could communicate messages to friends and family members. That concept might not be so foreign now that young inventors have created a prototype smart hoodie that sends preset messages with simple gestures. That sounds pretty cool, but are there practical uses for the product besides just saying “hi”?
Students at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program designed a hooded sweatshirt equipped with a GSM radio that can respond to different gestures by sending a preset text message, The Verge reports.
A demonstration of the smart hoodie features three gestures – touching the hood, touching the sleeve or rolling up a sleeve – that each result in a different pre-determined text message being sent a preset recipient.
While the product seems pretty innovative and could come in quite handy if you have ESP and can foresee needing to covertly message your friends or family, there are still a number of questions left to be answered.
MORE WORK THAN IT’S WORTH?
For starters, creating messages to send later requires a lot of thought and planning. We usually don’t know what we’re going to say in the next sentence, how do can we anticipate what message to send hours from now?
Also, just how sensitive is the gesture detector that senses when to send a message?
If you preprogrammed a message to your spouse reminding them about those 7 p.m. dinner reservations, once the message has been activated once by touching your sleeve, does it then reset? If not, how does a fidgety person prevent the same message from being sent multiple times?
Also, how do you clean it? No one wants to walk around the city smelling because they can’t wash their smart hoodie.
KEEPING YOU SAFE OR GIVING FALSE SECURITY?
From a safety standpoint the new technology could have a lifesaving quality. Creating a cautionary message to be sent to the new text-to-911 program would be a very practical use of the hoodie if you know you’ll be in an area of high crime.
But the text-to-911 feature, which is currently rolling out across the United States, requires consumers to text their physical address since authorities can’t easily track consumers via SMS. In that case would a preset message really do any good if you’re just walking down the street in a bad neighborhood or don’t have a specified location available?
MAKING YOU LOOK SUSPICIOUS?
It also wouldn’t be helpful if you’re in a situation such as a bank robbery. Covertly sending a message to authorities would be pretty heroic, but how did you know the bank was going to be robbed when you programmed messages two hours ago? That’s just going to lead to more questions for you from authorities.
But what if you’re meeting that friend to catch a flight? How will the nuts and bolts of the hoodie be perceived when going through security? The mock-up featured in photos appears rather crude with a number of wires protruding inside.
BETTER THAN A TRAFFIC TICKET?
We would never condone texting while driving, but could hoodie provide a way to safety send a quick message?
Sure, the hoodie probably won’t do much to sway consumers from not texting while behind the wheel, but it could provide an alternative for those who promised to send a heads-up message to a friend when approaching their homes.
Instead of illegally fumbling with a phone while driving, you could create a pre-programmed message to alert them of your ETA by touching your sleeve and keeping your eyes on the road.
GIVING THE ILLUSION OF ENGAGEMENT
The hoodie could help you save face when participating in a face-to-face conversation. No one appreciates it when the person they’re speaking with pulls out a phone to send a few quick text messages. The hoodie could be convenient solution to the perceived rudeness of texting while conversing.
For example, you need to let your friend know you’re still picking them up from the airport, with the hoodie you could simply roll up your sleeve without looking rude while continuing an important conversation with your coworker.
While the smart hoodie is a fairly new concept, and there are undoubtably kinks to be worked out, it could offer some promising and convenient uses for consumers.
Finally, there’s a hoodie that can text your mom [The Verge]