By now we’ve seen our fair share of LED jackets, but none have really taken the design of the coat itself into much consideration. When I discovered Angella Mackey’s illuminated bicycle coats, I was immediately drawn into the design of coat first and it’s functionality second. Isn’t that how all wearable technology should be? The illuminated bicycle coat was born out of a desire to develop a fun, stylish coat that was neither sporty or geeky. When asked what came first — form or function — when designing the coat, Mackey responded: “When I design a wearable project, I first try to think of the functionality and grow the style from there. With the bicycle jacket, I knew the lights should be located somewhere in the upper chest area at the front and back so that they’d be visible. I had to think of style elements in these areas that would camouflage them.”
Her design choices, cording and frills, to camouflage the LEDs are nice details that give the coat it’s personality. My personal favorite design element is the switching mechanism to turn the LEDs on and off. The interaction was carefully designed to be intuitive. As Mackey explains, “I thought the switch should be in an accessible place and use arm movements that weren’t out of the ordinary–such as lifting up your sleeve to check your watch. It also shouldn’t be difficult to use while riding a bike. A flick to the top of your forearm seemed just right.”
The switching mechanism is a small flap on the lower part of the sleeve that flips up. It is held in place with magnets and has a small strip of reflective tape on the bottom of the flap that is exposed when the jacket is turned “on.” I love the last bit of detail here— not only does it provide the wearer a visual cue that their jacket is on, but has additional safety functionality. The coats are currently only a prototype — with a spring/summer version coming soon.
Can’t wait to see future iterations and I can definitely see this coat in the market!