Wearables have been evolving for a while. Believe it or not, soon they’ll be in the form of something other than wrist-worn devices like fitness trackers and smartwatches. It makes sense too when you think about it. Just the idea of “wearables” brings to mind a variety of things like hats, clothes, shoes, and more.
And wouldn’t you know it, smart clothes are officially here. Athos, for instance, makes a few smart clothing articles for athletes. The shorts and shirts they offer include a fitness and health tracker embedded within.
But a new smart jacket developed thanks to a partnership between Google and the American clothing manufacturer Levi’s will offer something more than just fitness tracking. They’ve been working on the jacket and related technology for some time now, but at SXSW they officially unveiled it to the public.
The Smart Jacket Is Possible Thanks to Project Jacquard Fabric
The technology for this exists thanks to Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects team or ATAP for short. Project Jacquard was created with the intention to create wearables, electronics, and various components and embed them in fabrics.
Ultimately, it allows creators to put together clothing and textile components that have electronics and interactive tools built-in. The thing is, you cannot tell the difference between the Jacquard fabric and conventional fabrics.
This is possible thanks to a unique type of fabric the team developed called Jacquard yarn, which is conductive. It’s made of the same basic materials as regular yarn and looks similar. The only difference is the conductivity allows electrical signals to be passed through it, just like an electrical circuit board. This is what makes it possible to embed electronics inside the fabric and yet still have them connected and synced.
Imagine a jacket or pair of jeans that will allow you to control your smartphone, TV, or media device by simply interacting with the clothing. There would be no need to take your phone out of your pocket, hunt down a remote, or search for controllers; at least not for simple tasks.
There are so many things you could do with technology like this. You could send messages to friends and family, silence incoming calls or notifications, change the channel on your television or raise the volume, turn on – or off – smart lights positioned throughout your home, and much more. And all of this can be done, by simply interacting with the fabric of the clothes you are wearing.
Of course, nothing beats seeing the technology in action, and getting a chance to see what it can really do.
Introducing the Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard by Google Trucker Jacket
The jacket is called the Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard by Google Trucker Jacket. Boy, is that a mouthful or what?
As it’s made by Levi’s, you probably guessed it’s comprised of denim. But what makes this particular jean jacket special is it has wireless connectivity baked in.
This allows the jacket to sync up with other devices and be used to interface with them? How? Well, for example, you can touch an area near the wrist of the jacket to carry out a specific action like stop or play music, or make a phone call.
It syncs with other devices via Bluetooth thanks to a “smart tag” that’s attached to the end of one of the sleeves. Luckily, the tag is removable, which is important. You can wash the jacket just like any other garment of clothing, provided you detach the tag beforehand.
Thanks to the interactivity you can control devices while you’re busy. So, let’s say, you’re biking and don’t have your hands free to dismiss a call, because the phone is in your pocket. You can simply tap or make a gesture somewhere on the jacket, and this signal is sent to your phone.