The destination for wearable technology, in my lifetime anyway, is the type of clothing and accessories we’ve always worn, i.e., shoes, jackets, jeans, watches and jewelry.
A year on from first hearing about the touch-enabled smart fabric from Google, a.k.a Project Jacquard, and now we’ve got word of the first clothing brand who will be launching a consumer-ready product using the technology. The world’s most famous denim gear firm, Levi Strauss are the first on the scene with a new connected trucker jacket called Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard.
Google’s Jaquard smart fabric is woven with conductive yarn that’s made from a combination of ultra-thin metallic alloys and synthetic materials such as polyester and cotton. It looks the same as regular yarn, and is strongest enough to be woven using any industrial loom.
These qualities along with the fact that Jaquard yarn can transform any item of clothing into a touchscreen and gesture-sensitive controller, means the future is bright for wearable tech. This doesn’t just apply to clothing either, as the smart fabric can be used for furniture and any thing else wrapped in textile.
The Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard jacket has a touchpad built into a patch on the cuff of the sleeve. The patch is also gesture-sensitive and can used to control your smartphone or other connected devices. With a swipe, tap or shake of the sleeve, users will be able to access a variety of services, such as Google Maps, , Google Play and third-party apps like Spotify.
Users can control their music playlist, reject incoming calls, check notifications, find nearby places of interest and access other features that come with the Google package.
The conductive yarn is connected to a removable Bluetooth tag which is charged via USB and provides connectivity to your smartphone. The jacket is washable just like any other Levi’s clothing, but the tag needs to be removed first.
How much will the Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard smart jacket cost? No idea, probably $60 or so more than a regular Levi’s jacket.
Google I/O 2016 revealed that the next-gen jacket will be arriving in Spring 2017.