The World's First 'Contactless' Jacket Has One Slight Downside...

It seems with Wearable Technology, there is always a catch.

The Apple Watch? Only works with certain iPhones. And ‘works’ is rather favourable terminology, according to some accounts.

Google Glass? You look like a right creep.

The ‘world’s first’ contactless winter jacket, announced just this week? Only for men, and only if you’re right handed…

This is the collaboration between high end menswear brand Lyle & Scott, and Barclaycard’s ‘bpay’ wireless payment technology. It works by adding a chip into the right cuff of the jacket, which you then scan over a payment reader much like you do with contactless credit or debit cards.  It will set you back £150.

Now, I understand why they haven’t made a women’s version. They’re a menswear brand. It’s like expecting BT to branch out into sports broadcasting and then take over the best event in the calendar: the Ashes.


Anyway, it’s not their specialism and I get that. However, I can think of at least one bloke I know who is left handed. I’m sure if I thought about it properly, I’d discover a few more.

Yes, it’s an early release and they’re probably just trialling it to identify uptake. A left handed version may well be on its way, so I’m probably being overly harsh here.  But sometimes it’s those ‘little details’ that can make all the difference.

And this is the thing with wearable technology. In order to get us to wear it, extra thought should be considered as to how we will use it.  All those alterations made in the computing industry to make things easier for users will need to be adapted by the clothing industry.

I know that the jacket isn’t a computer; just a simple alternative payment mechanism. And the concept is great (Although, if you buy one, check your bank bills regularly.  You might find you’ve accidentally paid for the supermarket shopping of the person next to you at the self checkouts, with one wrong arm movement.)

My point is that with wearable technology, the focus has to be on the technology and user experience, just as much as the fashion.

I’m not saying Lyle and Scott should have done something for everyone. That’s when you end up with something like the ‘BB Suit’ which basically turns you into a computer – it’s got WiFi, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth and MP3 streaming capabilities.

What it hasn’t got, is a dose of reality.

(If it was me and I saw someone in a BB Suit walking down the street, I’d get out my ‘Jammer Coat’ which is designed to make the wearer untrackable from modern devices. Nailed it.)

The key here is sense and sensibility. Lyle and Scott/ Barclays have enabled it so that their product can be linked to any UK registered Visa or Mastercard debit or credit card.   It must have taken some work to get those partnerships in order.

Which is why I just can’t fathom why they didn’t build it for all hand persuasions too.  Studies have shown that apparently ‘lefties’ are more likely to suffer from insomnia, psychosis and alcoholism. Do we have to add limitations to their fashion and technology tastes too?

Other than that, it looks like a nice jacket and a neat concept. Bravo Lyle & Scott.

Take note Marks & Spencer. I’m after a women’s version.