PhotoIf you’re one of those people blessed with more money than (fashion or financial) sense, you’ll definitely want to add a “Navigate” jacket to your wardrobe.

The jacket, invented by the Australian company Wearable Experiments, is equipped with GPS devices and other technological flourishes, to help pedestrians navigate through unfamiliar cities. Wearbale Experiements co-founder Ben Moir boasted that, “The technology built into the jacket is subtle and unobtrusive.”

“Subtle,” in this case, includes flashing LED lights sewn into the jacket’s sleeves, and vibrating devices in the shoulders. The sleeve lights start flashing as the jacket-wearing pedestrian approaches a turn, then the left or right shoulders vibrate to indicate a change of direction.

GPS-enabled clothing is nothing new; early in 2009, various snowboarding blogs heralded the introduction of GPS-infused coats marketed to snowboarders, cross-country skiers and other people whose hobbies regularly take them into cold, remote wilderness environments where getting lost can easily be fatal. And there’s no doubt that GPS clothing using directional vibrations to guide pedestrians could prove very useful for people whose vision is impaired badly enough to make personal navigation a challenge.

Everyday wear

What seems to set the Navigate jacket apart from earlier GPS clothes (in addition to the light-show rave sleeves) is that, based on our own (admittedly brief) online searches, it appears to be the first such jacket intended as ordinary everyday wear, rather than specialized garments for wilderness explorers and other niche market customers.

A writer for the BitRebels technology blog sounded excited about the world-freeing possibilities inherent in the new jacket: 

Wouldn’t it be quite interesting to wear one of these GPS jackets to guide you while in a city you have never been in before? I mean, just entering a destination through your smartphone and then head there with the help of the directions your jacket would give you. It would be the ultimate tourist accessory and with the subtle tappings and the LED lights not taking up too much of your time (where the smartphone would require you to constantly look at it) you would have more time to enjoy the actual city itself and what it has to offer.

Huh. We’ve used both smartphones and independent GPS devices to help us find our way through unfamiliar cities and suffered no shortage of time to “enjoy the actual city itself,” because we didn’t realize we had to “constantly” look at our GPS in order for it to work. Not to brag or anything, but: we’re perfectly capable of, for example, looking at a GPS just long enough to determine “Okay, in three blocks we’re supposed to turn right onto Tourist-trap Street,” and then — we do.

Granted, this requires a certain minimal level of intellectual effort — it helps if you read the actual signs, to determine which one is Tourist-trap Street — but this is not a problem because we figure the whole point of doing the tourist-visit thing is to look around and see what’s actually there. 

Thus far there’s no word on when the jackets will be available for sale, or what their price will be. We suspect it will be much higher than the cost of an individual jacket, GPS system and multiple LED lights, though.

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