According to the ATAP website, designers can use Jacquard "as they would any fabric, adding new layers of functionality to their designs, without having to learn about electronics." The site goes on to say "We are also developing custom connectors, electronic components, communication protocols, and an ecosystem of simple applications and cloud services." A developer's kit or product release date have not been announced.
"Wearable Technology at it's very best"
Wearable technology once promised to take us away from our phones and to improve our lives in subtle but powerful ways. The reality, however, has been a bit less exciting. More often than not, devices have been hampered by clunky design and bad taste, resulting in products that are expensive, unnecessary, and ugly. Yet it’s these drawbacks that highlight just how interesting Levi’s new connected smart jacket is and why it’s a bolder and perhaps more promising form of wearable tech.
Smart jacket by Google and Levi's
The technology combines thin, metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns to create touch-sensitive interactive fabrics. The smart fibers are washable; they're powered by a sort of smart cufflink that you'll have to remove when you wash the jacket. The cufflink has a two-day battery life. When paired with a small cufflink-style Bluetooth insert that slides into a hole next to this on the sleeve, touches, and gestures that are detected by the interactive denim can then be transmitted to a smartphone or other connected device.
So, let's say you're listening to music on your phone and want to skip to the next track. Rather than having to dig it out of your pocket, a quick slide or tap on the sleeve of your jacket is all you'd need to do. Similar gestures could also be used to adjust the volume, answer or decline incoming calls, or interact with navigation features in a GPS app.
When it's released later in the year, the jacket will come with an app so that you can customize the specific functions you want the five kinds of gestures to control: slide forward, slide back, double tap, full palm press, and a circular movement. The jacket can also provide subtle vibrations so you can be alerted to incoming calls or messages. It also means that aside from when the fairly small Bluetooth adapter is inserted the whole jacket is totally inconspicuous and largely indistinguishable from any other trucker jacket.
But we have to say we're pretty impressed with what we've seen of Project Jacquard so far although the smart jacket won't come cheap.
It's due for release in the US fall and will retail for US$350.
The Commuter Trucker jacket will be the first commercial product of the Jacquard project, created by Google’s ATAP division, but may be too expensive. The same Trucker line has models that cost about $100 in the US. Is the difference in price justified? We’ll know for sure when it’s released later this year.
Will people want to spend so much for a chance to wear the world's first smart jacket? We won't have to wait long to find out. So, what do you think about this smart jacket? Simply share your views in the comment section below.