Winter can be rough. To really improve mobility outdoors, Northern State residents need lightweight, affordable, well-insulated, heated clothing. The most important Winter clothing element is a good, lightweight, inexpensive, and warm e-heated jacket, with all-day e-heat in the chest, back, arms, and hood, and with long enough at the front to hold big gloves that come up above the wrist, when you need to take your gloves off briefly to do things. No e-jacket designer has yet addressed these needs.
The better the insulation, the less heat you need. I used one of the newer (DeWalt) heated jackets in Winter last year in Michigan, with a hood to keep my head warm, and a good pair of unheated gloves. This jacket had a lot of things still missing to make it easy to use (see below) but it helped me enjoy being outdoors, even on the coldest, windiest days. The battery is good for eight hours of outdoor use, so you charge it nightly at home.
Unfortunately, today's heated jackets are still too expensive for many inner city residents, and no inexpensive installment payment financing is available for those with limited incomes. The Ororo (picture above) with heat in the chest, upper back, and arms, is one of the more affordable ones, $140 at Amazon.
That is half what they used to cost, but these can get even cheaper, and the City can help with financing plans (such as underwriting zero-interest financing, and paying the first months payment) for residents with limited income. A good Winter jacket is as important as electricity in the home. We need to make them accessible to everyone, and we sorely need to improve their design.
Perhaps Ford, Detroit, and our Northern City Mayors can get together and subsidize a Public Design Competition, circulated to all the Design colleges, for better, more affordable versions of these jackets.
Here are ten things I'd like to see in a Better, Cheaper Heated Winter Jacket:
1. More insulation, to make the jacket poofier and lighter, and allow less batteries for all-day heating.
2. A thermostat, so we won't have to fiddle with the jacket's heating controls, when we go into and out of buildings. That is such poor design. These jackets could easily sense the temperature and give the right amount of heat for all conditions.
3. Heating around the neck, and in the back and sides of the hood, and an oversized hood, with a draw closure, and a mask pocket. A Heated Hood like this would keep your face warm most of the time even without a mask, even in wind.
4. Heated pockets, so we can quickly get our hands warm again if we have take our gloves off and our hands got cold.
5. A Trench Coat version, that will keep you even warmer.
6. Big Glove Pockets on the front, with magnetic closures, not buttons or velcro, so we can easily access and store our gloves. I've only seen one jacket with such closures so far. They are very convenient.
7. A lot of batteries in series, distributed around the bottom of the jacket, rather than one big battery (almost all jackets today). That way, the jacket hangs better, and the battery never pinches your back when you sit down or drive. It's never in the way.
8. A Charging Dongle at the back of the jacket, so can recharge at night WITHOUT having to take out the battery. Almost all heated jackets today still require their users to take out a single, big battery, and put it in a charger, to charge it at night. That is so disrespectful of people's limited time and energy.
9. With a charging dongle at the back of the jacket, you can attach it to your Pedelec Trike, so it will recharge your jacket while riding (See https://challenges.cityoftomorrow.com/challenge/detroit/explore/shared-pedelec-trikes
10. Besides a charging dongle, a good jacket should have inductive charging, and a wall mount. Your electric toothbrush has it (a small ring and nub system, at the bottom of the toothbrush). It is easy to add that to a jacket, on a flap at the back of the neck. The jacket user will then not even have to fiddle with plugging in the jacket at night (very helpful for those with limited mobility and vision). They can just hang their jacket on their charging hook on the wall by the door or in the closet, a hook attached by wire to a power outlet. Add charging LED lights to the jacket and you'll never worry about dead batteries again.
There are a small number of startups with heated jackets on Kickstarter today, but no one has yet developed a product with more than *one* of these features, or figured out how to produce it and/or finance it cheaply, for everyone who would like better Winter mobility.
Contact me at email@example.com if you'd like me to work with you on making this happen!