• Ford Mobility Team Release 'Smart' Cycling Jacket with Built-in Handsfree and SatNav Jun 15, 2018
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    As one of the world's biggest car manufacturers, Ford has one of the biggest innovation and technology departments in the automotive industry. While you'd probably expect this from a giant of the motoring industry, what might surprise you is that they're developing a new 'smart' jacket aimed at road cyclists.

    As part of their stated aim to increase 'harmonious integration between all forms of road users', the Ford Mobility Team have come up with an innovative smart jacket concept. From their base at the former Olympic Park in East London, the team have released some information on their new cycling technology, as well as some initial pictures. The jacket features built-in indicators via light-up sleeves, brake lights to alert vehicles when they're slowing down, and even satellite navigation via a wireless smartphone connection. Hook the jacket up to your phone's SatNav, and while you're riding either the left or right sleeve will vibrate to tell you which way to go - it will even help you to avoid particularly busy junctions and roads via Ford's own bike-friendly mobile app.

    On top of this, the jacket - which Ford says is developed by a team of passionate cyclists from their Innovation Office - will also have sound functionality, allowing riders to take calls while they're on the move.

    Tom Thompson from the Ford Smart Mobility Team said:

    "There is an immediate change in mindset once there is no longer a need to stop to consult navigation apps or worry if you're heading into a busy or dangerous road junction."

    I have sent a request to Ford to test the jacket, which was developed in collaboration with mobility experts Tome and cycling clothing manufacturer Lumo. As an avid road cyclist, I'm keen to trial the jacket on my daily commute, particularly if it offers a solid level of protection and visibility. I recently tried and reviewed the new Oakley Flight Jacket sunglasses for two weeks on my commute, and while they were superb in terms of visual clarity and comfort, I couldn't help thinking they would benefit from built-in SatNav and indicators!

    I'm hoping that any review will be of a later version of the jacket, as Ford have suggested that future features could include hand gestures, voice-commands and even bone-conduction headphones. Of course, the jacket is only a prototype at this stage, but if they secure the required patents, we could see this intriguing piece of cycling technology in full-scale development relatively soon.

    To find out more about how Ford is working to foster greater harmony between all road users, check out their recently launched Share The Road campaign.
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