Smart jacket could save lives
After seven years of thought, design and a patent, Elijah Rodriguez and Richard Pitts-Romero are on the verge of launching the “world’s first smart jacket” designed to save lives and improve comfort in extreme winter conditions.
FrigidWear started as a simple conversation between the two college students about a jacket that could heat itself from the inside. It would monitor the temperature of a person’s body and the external temperature, heating or cooling as needed.
“It was really about saving people’s lives,” said Pitts-Romero.
The entrepreneurs thought a jacket that could think for itself would help someone in a hypothermic situation in the backcountry.
“If you were buried in an avalanche or preventing hypothermia, the jacket kicks on to 115 degrees, with a battery life of seven to 10 hours,” Pitts-Romero said.
They spent several years brainstorming the idea and attending college before jumping full-force into the idea two years ago.
They needed a prototype with internal heating coils and a design for personal thermostat control deck. The jacket would be controlled and connected to a person’s smartphone, which required permission from Android and iPhone and an app.
Then they needed to protect their idea by applying for a patent. They also needed investors and manufacturers.
“It was a long process,” Pitts-Romero explained.
During that process, they also expanded the practical applications of the jacket to include camouflage hunting jackets and fire-resistant coats and overalls for those working in outdoor industries such as oil and gas production.
Understandably, the company is rather guarded at this point about the technology they are using in their jackets. “But, we’ll be working closely with the Droid market — they really liked the idea and we’re working on the details of that,” Pitts-Romero said.
Now, with working prototypes and the piqued interest of some large outdoor gear companies, Rodriguez and Pitts-Romero are on the verge of realizing their dream.
They revealed their M-Series 2012 line last week on their website, http://www.frigidwearllc.com. It includes jackets made from a variety of waterproof materials for both men and women. They are currently taking orders on the website. Jacket prices are between $589 to $989, depending on style and features. Each purchase includes customized tailoring and a five- to seven-year warranty. Delivery can be made within two weeks of purchase.
Their first manufacturing facility is expected to open in early October near Sam’s Club in Grand Junction.
“At that point, we’ll start showing the line to corporations and local companies,” he said.
It’s been a long road and a lot of hard work, but it’s an effort Pitts-Romero hopes pays off. “It’s very rewarding and nice to finally put something on,” he said.