In a weird ‘art-inspires-life’ type scenario, the self-drying jacket that Marty McFly wore in 2015 in the movie Back to the Future II has actually become a reality this year. A prototype has already been created and a Kickstarter campaign is underway to raise funds for mass production.
The jackets – named SDJ-01 – are classified as wearable tech, because of the internal air circulation system that expedites the drying process from the inside out. “The self-drying jacket is real,” the campaign page states. “They actually do dry. Under normal circumstances, you can expect the jacket to dry in about 1-2 minutes after being exposed to rain or a spilled drink. If you jump into a pond to escape some maniac on a hoverboard, that will probably take longer.”
“Think of how quickly your clothes dry when you turn a standard fan on them. Now imagine how quickly breathable, water resistant material dries when exposed to concentrated, high-pressure air. In lab tests, our jacket consistently experienced noticeable drying effects after just 30 seconds, with the average time of about a minute to achieve 90% drying effect.”
“This is something that’s been on my mind for years, but I never thought to actually try to do it,” said Aaron Coleman, lead designer at Falyon Wearable Tech, the company producing the jacket. “I always assumed someone else would do it eventually. When that didn’t happen, one day I suddenly realised, ‘Hey, I could make this happen. Why not give it a shot?” He didn’t want it to be just another glorified movie prop, but an actual useable jacket. “We wanted to follow the basic design of the jacket from BttF but update it a bit, adding more pockets for all the gadgets people in the real 2015 are carrying around.”
Eventually, Coleman and his team hit upon the perfect combination of water resistant material and high-pressure air circulation to achieve complete drying in just one minute. The outer layer is made of water-repellant nylon, with synthetic insulation made of polyester fibre on the inside. It dries itself through a couple of air amplifiers attached to the sides.
According to the Kickstarter page, “The air amplifiers are capable of redirecting air with extreme high pressure and flow rates equal to or surpassing commercially available hairdryers. Despite their power, they are not exceptionally bulky or heavy, weighing about 4oz each. The air amplifiers function in the space between the jacket’s exterior and the inner lining. This serves to keep the high pressure air circulating in an enclosed space, maximizing the drying capability. This also ensures that the jacket dries from the inside out so the layers closest to your skin dry first.” The amplifiers are controlled by an easy-to-use power switch located towards the end of the front zipper.
Three exhaust/cooling vents near the neckline – two on the sides and one at the back – act as outlets for the circulating air, completing the air current and expediting the jacket’s drying. The air expelled from these vents can also cool/dry the wearer’s face and hair. There’s a lightweight, rechargeable power cell in one of the eight interior pockets, powerful enough to run the amplifiers for up to 30 minutes. The cell is removable, but can also be recharged through a 6ft. charging cable that’s provided with the jacket. Two of the internal pockets are customised for smartphone and tablet storage.
The makers claim that the design is 100 percent original, although the jacket might look familiar because the material is sourced from a supplier who also manufactures for GAP. Although Coleman and his team tried hard to get the prototype ready for Back to the Future Day – celebrated on October 15 this year – they couldn’t get a proof-of-concept design down in time.
“We had a huge problem trying to figure out how to get tech in the jacket that would be powerful enough but also small and lightweight,” he explained. “We destroyed a bunch of sample jackets trying to get it to work and at one point we were about ready to give up.” But they eventually succeeded and started the Kickstarter campaign once they were confident they had a good product to offer.
According to the makers, SDJ-01 is ideal for rainy days and spills, and the fans are perfect to cool off on days “when you’re just a little too warm but it’s too cold to take off your jacket.” They plan to use the funds to begin pre-production by February next year, and begin shipping in April.
Faylon Wearables has already started work on its next prototype, which seems to also be inspired by fictional technology. “We don’t want to say too much about SDJ-02,” Coleman said. “But we will say the codename we’re using for it is the ‘Iron-Man.’”
Photos: Faylon Wearables