Levi’s Google Jacket
LEVI’S GOOGLE JACKET
The internet is invading everything. Soon it will even be in the clothes you wear.
On Friday, Google announced that its Advanced Technology and Projects group has formed a partnership with Levi Strauss and Company. Their common purpose is to manufacture a ‘smart’ commuter jacket. The jacket, which will be released in the Spring of 2017, will incorporate Google’s touch-sensitive textile technology, called Project Jacquard.
At first glance, nothing about the jacket signals “high technology”. It does not incorporate any screens or bulky battery packs. It doesn’t look much different from any other denim jacket.
The only unusual feature on the jacket is a slightly irregular weave by a black strap wrapped around one of the cuffs.
Paul Dillinger, Levi’s Vice President of Innovation, says the new jacket will be called the Commuter Trucker Jacket. It will enable navigation, accepting calls, dismissing calls, changing music tracks, and other functions while the wearer is in motion. He won’t need to pull out a phone or a tablet for them. A mere wave of the hand, or a tug on a cuff, will control all of these functions.
A flexible USB tag is attached to the cuff. Sensors woven into the jacket’s fabric interpret the wearer’s gestures and activate the requested functions.
Google’s sensors are a conductive yarn woven into the fabric with Levi’s standard manufacturing processes, and the jacket is as soft and flexible as any other denim garment. It doesn’t require special care. “If you get this thing dirty”, Dillinger said, “you put it in the washing machine.” The user will need to remove the USB tag first.
Google says that the Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket is only its first foray into electronic apparel. The ATAP team wants to extend Project Jacquard into athletic, formal business, uniform, and luxury clothing lines.
Ivan Poupyrev, who leads Google’s ATAP team, said the Levi’s project is an attempt to extend the utility of garments. “If you look at the history of apparel”, he said, “you can see how technology comes in and adds new functions, like nylon and zippers. It’s very natural at this point that new technology becomes another ingredient in building apparel and fashion for the future. Once appetite is there in the public for smart textiles, it becomes almost like a right. People will expect it all the time, and everywhere.”
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