On the face of it Google and Levi’s project Jaquard jacket looks just like any other of Levi’s denim jackets. But, in the sleeve lies a secret; the ability to control your phone with simple arm gestures. Project Jaquard is a project launched by google which aims to bring technology into the technological age. The aim is to integrate technology into clothes as opposed to having them work in conjunction with clothes. So, although these jackets are technically wearable tech, they aim to be more tech integrated than tech added.
How it works
The jacket has 15 metal wires woven into the fabric of the sleeve. These wires are visible; however they can apparently be made to be invisible. The wires on this model have been made visible so that the users can see the area where they are supposed to perform the gesture. The capacitive touch technology then registers the user’s movements and sends that to the designated app on your phone. The app then performs the pre-programmed request. This is a request that can be set by the user. For example you can choose that a downward swipe will open the phone app and call your mom. Or that an upward swipe will open directions to home.
The technology is charged by a small black clip that clips onto the cuff of the jacket and can charge the device for a reported two days. The clip can then be take off and individually charged via USB. This means that you won’t need to plug your jacket in when you are out of change. It also means you can take the clip off and turn off the features if you need/want to.
The jacket is set to go on sale in autumn of 2017 for a price of $350 (£290), though there is currently no information as to whether this will be a worldwide, or US only release.
The downside to Jaquard, and their goals within google, is that they seem to be heavily promoting the use of headphones when cycling. This is an incredibly dangerous thing to do, and something google and Levi’s should be more active in discouraging.
The natural progression for this technology is to get to the point where tech can be seamlessly integrated into all of our clothes. It seems we are inching ever closer to the technology portrayed in sci-fi films where we are all part machine given what we wear. However, this technology does spark the idea of using tech integration to make our lives safer. The main benefit to the jacquard technology, and as show in all their marketing, is to make cycling safer. By offering these gestures, it removes the temptation to be using your phone while cycling, and not able to use voice control. However, it is easy to see a point at which we can use our clothes and simple gestures to work with technology like Google Home or Amazon Echo, to control household appliances. Who knows, maybe jacquard is the start of big things in the tech world.