Infineon Technologies AG and German clothing manufacturer rosner GmbH & Co. said Monday that they have jointly developed a men's jacket, known as mp3blue, that contains built-in mobile telephony via Bluetooth and an MP3 player. A textile keyboard on the sleeve controls the electronic features. The product is scheduled to become available for order on the Internet in August at www.mp3blue.de.
Electrically conductive fabric is sewn into the mp3blue jacket. It's connected to a compact electronics module and a textile keyboard on the left sleeve. The headphones and the microphone are integrated into the collar. The module contains an MP3 player with 128 Mbytes of memory, a Bluetooth gateway to control a mobile telephone, and a rechargeable battery that can supply power for up to eight hours. When the wearer of the jacket places a telephone call, the stereo system becomes a headset and the music is automatically interrupted when calls come in. To wash the jacket, it's necessary to remove the electronics module from its holder.
Infineon isn't a newcomer to wearable electronics. In January, Infineon and sportswear manufacturer O'Neill introduced a wearable electronics snowboard jacket, the Hub, complete with an MP3 player and Bluetooth capabilities that enables a snowboarder to control a mobile phone. The Venture Development Corp. estimates the intelligent textiles market will reach approximately $1 billion by 2007.
VDC defines smart fabrics and interactive textiles as electronically conductive materials, microelectronics, user interfaces, power sources, or communication links. The military and other government agencies are developing garments with conductive energy capabilities, as well as those that undergo a material change to meet specific environmental situations to provide shielding and protection against biological or chemical agents.