A Swiss collaboration throughout the development chain, from pioneering membrane developments to fabric manufacturer through to industry-leading premium sports apparel brand Kjus, resulted in the launch of the world’s first garment to feature an electronic, user-controlled membrane: Hydro_Bot.
The Hydro_Bot technology was developed and patented by Osmotex, a Swiss technology company dedicated to electro-osmotic vapor and fluid transport. Researched and developed over a period of 10 years in collaboration with the Swiss research institute EMPA (the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) and fabric developer Schoeller, this is the first application of the Hydro_Bot technology within a garment.
Kjus’s 7sphere Hydro_Bot ski jacket actively pulls sweat away from the inner garments and out of the jacket, using a process called electro-osmosis, keeping skiers dry and performing their best. This overcomes the issue of sweat becoming trapped inside a skier’s clothing system, and the dreaded post activity chill that results from having saturated inner garments. The technology not only boosts the enjoyment factor but also the performance factor, by ensuring the skier spends minimal energy on thermoregulation and maximum energy on their ski performance.
Technology is incorporated into the jacket via two panels strategically located on the high-sweat zone of the back. The technology consists of 3 functional layers; a membrane made up of trillions of pores per m2, surrounded by conductive fabric. When a small electrical pulse is applied, the pores turn into micro-pumps, actively pumping sweat away from the body and out of the jacket quickly and efficiently. Ultra-simple to use, the jacket can we switched on and off with the integrated control unit or via Bluetooth from the iPhone & Android compatible app.
Hydro_Bot solves one of the biggest challenges in the ski and sportswear sector – breathability, and the issues that arise when a skier builds up a sweat in sub-zero temperatures, while wearing warm, waterproof clothing. Up until now, ski jackets using regular membranes have not been able to wick moisture away from the body fast enough, especially in colder temperatures when the breathability of regular membranes take a plunge.
The revolutionary jacket is up to 10 times more efficient than jackets with regular membranes, and is not adversely affected by freezing temperatures. It is the first ever garment to be able to match human sweat rates in terms of breathability. In fact, the more moisture the skier produces the faster it works. By measuring the amount of sweat passing through the panels the app is also able to make practical recommendations on how to regulate body temperature, enabling skiers to minimize sweat production in the first place.
“Kjus creates garments that enable sportspeople to focus on their performance and the experience. For two decades Kjus has been researching and developing new fabrics and technologies to tackle the challenge of breathability in skiwear,” comments Kjus’ Head of Innovation, Ken Kurtzweg. “The 7sphere Hydro_Bot is a game-changing wearable-tech jacket that represents a giant leap forward on our mission to ensure skiers are kept dry, warm and comfortable from the first run of the day to the last.”