In what is being billed as a first of its kind, Kenyan start-up CladLight has developed the region’s first wearable technology in the form of a jacket to be used by motorcycle riders. The company’s aim for the jacket is to reduce road accidents involving motorcyclists.
CladLight explains that the smart jacket transmits signals from motorcycles to the smart jacket to show the direction the biker wants to turn using radio waves – kind of like a wearable turning signal. For added functionality, the jacket is fitted with a GPS tracker that allows companies to keep track of riders.
Charles Muchene formed the company with his brother Joseph, and the pair aims to sell at least 10 000 units in the next four months. They have already piloted 12 different jackets, and have experimented with elements such as a longer battery life, various comfortability designs and different design techniques.
CladLight is now in the process of searching for manufacturers of components at a reduced price, as it could bring the cost down by up to 30 percent.
“We are not even ruling out the possibility that once we have the product ready we will license it to a person who can manufacture it better and at a cheaper cost. If someone can do it better and cheaper than us all possibilities are open,” said Muchene.
The brothers have big dreams for their smart jacket, especially in a country where over 100 000 motorcycles ferry thousands of passengers every day.
“We hope to expand to the neighboring countries soon as soon as we have rolled out in Kenya. The main problem we have faced is in securing a patent continent wide, as the fees are too high but we do hope with the Kenyan rollout as well as increased investment we can also secure that,” Charles concluded.
Currently the smart jacket comes in two variations: one that uses its own power source using batteries, and another that draws power from the motorcycle.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor