At Night Athletic, a Baltimore-based, woman-owned apparel company, is launching a line of illuminated running shorts and pants designed to help runners exercise safely in low-visibility conditions.
The company's flagship product, Illuminated Athletic Pants, is the first design in a patent pending series of garments featuring inlaid LED lights that are bright and lightweight. At Night is billing its pants as washable, dryable, comfortable and affordable.
The startup plans a Kickstarter campaign beginning next month and is taking preorders for women's capris and men's shorts.
Julie Polanowski, president and co-founder, said the pants offer an alternative to products on the market now — such as reflective athletic wear, which she said offers minimal projection and only lights in one direction, or electroluminescent lighting products that come with heavy battery packs.
At Night pants project higher levels of visibility without requiring packs, Polanowski said. They also feature an alarm that turns LED lights from green to red and emits a siren if an athlete needs help. The products are rechargeable and can communicate with an athlete's phone.
Polanowski's husband, Tim, the company's vice president and inventor of the product, got the idea when he and his wife were driving down a busy street one evening and watched as a runner in dark clothing dodged cars by moving from street to grass.
"The jogger was willing to risk being hit because drivers couldn't see him just so he could run at his chosen time in his chosen environment," said Tim Polanowski in the company's announcement.
He said he found reflective products such as hats with built-in flashlights, light up shoes, reflective vests and illuminated wrist bands were not necessarily designed for running or walking.
The couple has joined forces with a local design and manufacturing company to make the flagship products and started their business.
"We decided that we didn't just want to create the original product," Julie Polanowski said. " We wanted to become the leader in nighttime athletics."
The founders see a market for illuminated garments for sports other than running and plan to develop additional products.