Since the invention of clothes aeons ago, a jacket has been worn to keep you warm, keep you dry – and now, to give you a massage. Dubbed the “mobile massage suite”, the Aira smart jacket uses air pressure to produce the sensation of a back rub. At the touch of a button on the gadget’s smartphone app, special air pockets embedded in the fabric of the garment are activated to give you a full-torso warm-down. Still in development, the Aira prototype is expected to be available on the market in early 2016, according to its makers TWare, a Singapore-based fashion and technology startup. “I want to see office executives who aren’t suffering from back pain and shoulder aches,” Jun Yuan, head of products at TWare.
Q: What led you to develop the Aira jacket?
– I’m the Product Head of Aira, meaning that I do a lot of sitting in front of a computer, brainstorming for ideas whenever I’m not designing products. I've been hunching over ideas – quite literally – for a while. As a result, my back hurts because of my poor posture and long hours sitting, so I totally empathize with how office executives, programmers, or designers feel... I designed this product with the executives in mind, so I began by experimenting the jacket on myself. The massage worked, and Aira was born.
My ultimate goal is to see office executives who aren’t suffering from back pain and shoulder aches. I want to see them contributing to the best of their abilities. I want to empower them so that they can be mindful of their own health and posture. The end goal for them - and for everyone of us here - is to lead a healthier and more confident life.
Q: In what way does Aira make wearers healthier?
– Aira is developed from our startup’s deep-pressure touch technology, which gives a squeezing sensation to the body (like a hug). Deep pressure induces a calm and relaxed feeling; we have included point pressure massage on the shoulders and lower back. The massage relieves muscle tension commonly felt by the desk-bound employee.
Q: What advantages does this jacket offer over traditional massage devices?
– Firstly, it is portable. You can wear Aira everywhere - commuting, in the office, in drives across country and even on the plane. Essentially, we are trying to achieve comfort on the move, and we felt that a massage is an apt example of what we are aspiring to. Massage machines are currently bulky.
Second, it's fashionable. It's a hoodie, and you can wear a hoodie any day. At the end of the day, the Aira is filling the gap in existing comfort.
Q: How does the user operate the Aira?
– The Aira jacket is controlled from a smartphone app, connected via Bluetooth. The smartphone activates the inflation of airbags, embedded as a thin layer within the jacket. The inflation gives you a full-torso squeeze that helps the user feel relaxed. At the same time, specific point pressures on the shoulders and lower back relieve common muscle aches.
Q: Could this jacket be hitting the market some day?
– Yes, Aira is likely to be available in the first quarter of 2016.