British military defense and security firm BAE Systems has revealed a new piece of kit for the mobile era. The Broadsword Spine is a next generation tactical vest for the military, capable of protecting from gunfire and charging mobile devices.
BAE developed an e-textile technology for the wearable, which replaces cables and battery packs with a conductive fabric, reducing the weight by 40 percent compared to an operator carrying a battery pack.
While BAE is focused on Army, police, and fire departments, the e-textile technology could prove a very popular material for wearable designers working on smart clothes. The ability to charge devices on the go with your clothes may be something people want, especially if made contactless.
On the press photo, the Broadsword Spine charges a smartphone from the chest area via USB. BAE says there are eight connection ports available on the vest, enough for users to carry specific mobile equipment and sensors.
BAE wants to take human error out of equation
The vest is capable of providing 200 watts of power to devices, before it needs to be recharged back at HQ.
For army personnel in the field, bomb detection software, rapid changes in the weather, and other localized data is critical to mission success. Having a wearable that can keep all devices in close proximity is already good enough, but the ability to charge them could be crucial for long deployment missions, especially if a team gets bogged down.
It also helps avoid inevitable human errors, like not charging devices before a mission or sinking the battery life too early. For police, it could help officers keep cameras and other mobile equipment online for longer before returning to base for a refill.
Smart clothing could be the next big thing in wearables, fitness firms have already launched multiple varieties of smart clothes and Lyle & Scott and Samsung have unveiled NFC jackets for payments and unlocking devices.
The conductive material inside the Broadsword Spine vest could be implemented in these types of clothing as well, and could allow designers to add more advanced sensors that require more juice.