Google in partnership with Levis launches smart jacket with woven sensors

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2017-03-15 14:30:00 – New Delhi

Google in partnership with Levis would bring "smart clothing" to the market using a technology codenamed Project Jacquard. Project Jacquard is a division within Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group that aims to transform 'everyday objects such as clothes and furniture into interactive surfaces.

Google is now powering jackets the Commuter Trucker Jacket’ that can recognize touch gestures. Connected to your smartphone, jacket can control calls and do a bunch of other things and now selling for $350 (about Rs 23,000).

The textile deploys conductive threads that the company created by combing thin, metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns like cotton, polyester, or silk. 'There have been wearable devices before, but the fact that the circuitry (sort of) is woven into the fabric of the cloth and is not a separate cluster hanging around the collar or cuffs.

Though the Trucker Jacket does have a sensing tag located in the cufflinks that you remove while washing. Other than that, Google doesn't talk about separate circuit boards hanging around.

The cufflinks of the jacket can recognize gestures such as single/double tap or wave. Connected to the smartphone, it can help you get directions, control music or calls or maybe even launch Google Assistant to take voice commands via connected headset.

Google is trying to shrink down all the electronic components using present fabrication technology so it can be something as small as a button. So Jacquard is an interface embedded inside your clothes, blended in such a way that isn't visible.

It is also developing 'custom connectors, electronic components, communication protocols, and an ecosystem of simple applications and cloud services' under the project.

Google said that the electronics are so seamlessly hidden (or rather woven) inside the fabric that there appears no different than the usual garment. Moreover, the technology is scalable to be used in factories to create yarns in a regular mill using standard equipment.

The jacket is made using Levis' standard manufacturing techniques and it doesn't need to be treated with any special care. It can be washed and worn and treated like any other garment; you just need to remove the Bluetooth cuff before washing it. And it's just the first garment that Levis is making with this tech -- the company wants to make athletic and business wear as well.

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