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Baubax puts wireless charging ports in your clothes

Engadget Engadget 28/06/2016 Cherlynn Low

© Provided by Engadget

Life would be so much easier if we could keep our phones charged just by slipping them into our pockets or purses. Startup BauBax thought so too, and went about crafting a set of garments that offer wireless charging on the go. The project launched on Kickstarter today, and I had a chance to preview prototypes of the new line to see how well it looked, felt and worked.

The premise is simple. Slide a wireless battery pack (with the Qi standard) into a hidden inner pocket, and it will send power through embedded cables throughout the clothing to other charging points. The power pack BauBax makes has a 5,000mAh capacity, which the company says can fully recharge an iPhone, a smartwatch and four cycles of its headphones.

That's different from SCOTTeVEST, which simply organizes your tech in your jacket and blocks RFID. BauBax's line actually lets you juice up your gear. Apple owners will have to invest a bit more to get BauBax's case that enables wireless wireless charging for the iPhone.

There's a decent variety of garments in the new series. Available for men are a sweatshirt ($200), vest ($200), down jacket ($250), bomber jacket ($300), jeans ($150), slim-fit jeans ($150), chino pants ($150) and chino shorts ($120). Women's sweatshirts, vests, down jackets and bombers are available at the same price as the men's, but there currently aren't any women's bottoms on offer. BauBax said its research showed that women didn't like putting their phones in bottom pockets.

What I liked about the BauBax coat and vest was how well-constructed they were. Soft interior lining made the clothes comfortable and the garments felt luxe to the touch. I was impressed that, even with the phones and battery packs in the pockets, the women's vest I tried on didn't show any unsightly bulges.

The prototype coats and vests I saw weren't final; the company is still refining the battery pack and making the watch connector smaller. But what I saw worked. After popping on the wireless-enabling case, I slid an iPhone into the inside chest pocket. Within seconds, the phone's charging screen popped up. An Apple Watch started recharging within seconds of sitting on the watch connector ($70 retail) attached to the end of the coat sleeve.

You can also get men's and women's wallets for $40 each, and a charging pad that you can place on any surface to wirelessly charge up to two devices at a go. Eventually, the company will also sell a smart hanger that charges your BauBax clothes as they hang in your closet.

BauBax also made wireless, cordless Bluetooth headphones ($250), similar to the Bragi Dash, that attach to the clothes' collars for safekeeping and charging. You can also stow the headphones in the loops of the battery pack holder or wallets, so you won't misplace the little buds.

While I love the idea behind the wireless charging clothes, I'm not sure how many people will need a charge so much that they have to have it on them. I can see the outerwear coming in handy for travel and roadtrips, but not for daily use. Making sure I wear the right pants to keep my phone charged is actually more troublesome than simply tossing a portable battery into my purse before a day out.

Those who travel a lot or need plenty of juice can start pre-ordering now to get an early-bird discount, but you'll have to wait till June 2017 to finally get your new gear. BauBax's previous project, a travel jacket packed full of pockets and cool functions, took six months to ship to customers and stores too. Who knows if the Qi standard will remain a popular option by then, but this series of charging clothes are definitely worth a look.

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