In our Gadget of the Week series we try to bring you nifty, clever, life changing and just plain cool gadgets. And then there's this week. All joking aside, hi-Call, the smartphone gloves with conductive fingertips and Bluetooth phone in the fingers, is actually a seriously cool idea if you can get over the ''what the?'' factor. One step better than hands-free calling, hi-Call offers phone-free calling!
What is hi-Call?
Everyone has had a complaint about using their smartphone with gloves on at one point or another. Well, what if you didn't even need to use your phone but could answer a call with your gloves? This is the principle behind the "hi-Call" gloves by the manufacturer hi-Fun. The fingertips of the thumb and index finger are conductive and not only enable touch-screen operation with the gloves on, but the thumb and little finger of the left hand also contain a tiny speaker and microphone. This means you can take calls via a Bluetooth connection with your phone without taking the handset out of your pocket.
How does hi-Call work?
The touch-screen operation with hi-Call works exactly like any other smartphone glove, made possible by a conductive material in the fingertips of the thumb and index finger. The phone module will connect via Bluetooth to your phone, as seen, for example, in standard Bluetooth headsets. The microphone is in the little finger, the speaker is in the thumb - to make phone calls you simply adopt the the familiar telephone gesture with your hand. While this gesture is natural, it strangely makes you look a tad goofy when it's suddenly for real.
A receiver and adjustment module live in the wrist cuff of the left glove, and the battery can be charged via micro USB cable - the talk time is up to twelve hours (according to the manufacturer). An LED lamp in the middle of the cuff lights up depending on the situation and there's an embroidered green circle and red X that indicate the buttons to accept, reject and end calls, as well as turn the gloves on or off. In addition, you can directly access last dialed numbers as well as activate voice search and voice commands on a smartphone - but only if those features are actually supported by your particular smartphone.
What's so cool about hi-Call?
As far as smartphone gloves go, they're not anything to write home about anymore. But that has all changed with hi-Fun's take on the idea. Gloves with which you can make calls with the thumb and little finger, just like Inspector Gadget, who woulda thunk it? An idea that, to some, sounds like nothing more than a funny idea has been made into a functional reality with hi-Call. The best thing is: it really works! Although the receiver and speech quality is not the best (after all, it is being muffled by a layer of fabric), the gloves are suitable for everyday use in cold weather and their understated black and gray color combo are standard fare whether you're planning on making and receiving calls with them or not. The gloves can be ordered in wool (49.99 Euros) or leather (99.99 Euros) directly from the manufacturer's website or through hi-Fun retailers in the US and Canada. And yes, they also have the hi-Hat, a woolen hat that incorporates headphones/calling capabilities if that's more your style.
Would you use phone-free gloves to make calls? What's your preferred way to use your phone in winter?