The future is now.
You might recall the BMW Definition CE 04, a concept electric scooter with numerous innovations that we might expect to see on future production models. One of those innovations was a matching jacket with built-in lighting to increase visibility. It turns out that's not the only technological trick up BMW's sleeve, as BMW Motorrad's Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design, and Ralf Rodepeter, Head of Marketing and Product Management, discuss.
BMW makes not only motorcycles (and cars), but also their own riding gear. This isn't just someone else's jacket or pants with a blue and white roundel plastered on, but legitimately high-quality gear. I've put a set of my own to the test, and it's saved me from many off-road scrapes and bruises. In the case of the Definition CE 04, its matching jacket is essentially a breathable parka. It keeps you dry and warm and includes flexible armor in all the right places to protect you in a mishap.
That's just the beginning of this jacket's tricks, though. As we've seen, it also includes light strips. Making the vehicle talk to the gear opens a wide variety of possibilities. Rather than just having the back of the jacket glow red, it could mirror the operation of the bike's built-in lighting systems. The red glow could become a bright shine when you apply the brakes. Turn signals could flash amber on the appropriate side of the jacket. A simple Bluetooth connection through a phone app could accomplish this. Of course, this is no replacement for the bike's built-in lighting, since the rider might not always wear the matching jacket.
The jacket also has a pocket designed specifically for your phone, with wireless inductive charging to top it off while you ride. That, and the lighting, is powered by a built-in power bank. This is removable for washing the jacket as you normally would. BMW doesn't say how big or powerful this battery is, but LEDs don't use much power, so it doesn't need to be too big. This is far more convenient than having a cord to plug into your bike, the way a lot of heated gear works. BMW doesn't say that this jacket is, itself, heated, but a jacket including all of this technology could be, perhaps with a larger battery to run the heat.
While this all seems like science fiction, the truth is that the technology already exists to make this possible right now. BMW is the first to combine it all into a single garment, but I'm sure they won't be the last.