I’ve been excited about Google’s secretive Project Jacquard since it announced a collaboration with Levi’s last year. Now the collaboration has come to fruition in an innovative jacket featuring technology woven in, and specifically designed for urban bikers. This is just the start for Project Jacquard, which promises the ability to weave touch and gesture interactivity into a wide array of textiles, from clothing to furniture.
Scheduled to start shipping in spring 2017, the Levi’s Commuting Trucker Jacket will allow cyclists to play music, listen to directions, accept phone calls and more with the simple swipe on the sleeve of the jacket. This is a much safer alternative than trying to maneuver a bike and smartphone at the same time. Check out the jacket in action here.
So how does it work? It all starts with innovative jacquard yarn, which combines metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns like cotton and silk. When combined with traditional thread materials, the alloys are then strong enough to be woven on industrial looms. For the commuter jacket, gesture sensitive areas were woven directly into the fabric near the wrist, for easy access while biking. With a rechargeable tag on the cuff, the jacket then connects via Bluetooth to the user’s smartphone. The tag, inspired by classic trench coat designs, can be removed and the jacket can be washed like regular clothing.
This is a great example of wearable tech moving in a new direction, where form and function truly align without one being sacrificed by the other. In the future we can expect to see more exciting Jacquard partnerships that reimagine what can be done with technology woven directly into textiles. The commuter jacket is just the tip of the iceberg.