There are many opinions about wearable technology, but most criticisms focus on the awkwardness – or just plain unattractiveness – of many products that have come thus far. One of the more interesting presentations from I/O 2015 came during the ATAP session, in which Project Jacquard was introduced. This is a touch-sensitive fabric that can be woven into regular clothing and used a bit like a trackpad. This technology is being put to real use, and in a partnership with Levi Strauss, the first product using Jacquard will be launching next Spring.
Levi's is calling it the Commuter Trucker Jacket, a denim jacket with Jacquard woven into the left sleeve. It responds to simple gestures like swipes and taps. A small, flexible control unit attaches to the jacket at the cuff, held in place by the button loop. It contains the battery to charge everything, the Bluetooth transmitter, a vibrating motor for haptic feedback, and an LED for minimal visual feedback. The control unit was designed to blend in as well as it could, but this is the one element that still looks a little bit clunky and identifies the jacket as wearable tech.
The jacket communicates with an app on the wearer's phone over Bluetooth. In the on-stage demonstration, it was said that it can currently be used to react to text messages and phone calls, control Google Maps and Play Music, and also work with a few third-party apps like Spotify and Strava. An SDK is in development so developers can add support for their own apps, as well.
The jacket is designed to be stylish, but also rugged and durable so it can be thrown into a washing machine and worn like any other piece of clothing. There was a big emphasis that the fabric can handle all of the stresses of manufacturing and regular wear and tear. In fact, the control unit is the only component that has to be removed before throwing the jacking into a washer or dryer. The presentation didn't mention whether or not the touch-sensitive fabric functions properly if it gets wet in the rain.
A "limited beta" of Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket is planned for Fall 2016. Details for how to get into the beta weren't available, but there is a signup form at the bottom of the Project Jacquard website to receive news in the future. Levi's is targeting a full market release in Spring 2017. No prices or regional availability were mentioned.
What are you announcing today?
The Levi’s® innovation team and Google ATAP joined forces to create a modern version of denim: The Levi’s®
Commuter™ Trucker Jacket, with Jacquard technology woven in. Just as the copper rivet reinvented work wear for
miners during the gold rush, innovation today must confront the new challenges of our digital world.
Tell me more about the jacket
Coming to select Levi’s® stores in spring 2017, t he Levi’s® Commuter™ Trucker Jacket weaves interactive fibers into
denim to create a fashionable and functional interactive jacket for the urban cyclist. The jacket allows cyclists to
control their mobile experience and connect to a variety of services, such as music or maps, directly from the jacket
sleeve. With customized connectivity, the jacket provides a seamless cycling experience, and serves as a copilot
for your life (on and off your bike) —all without having to remove your phone from your pocket.
How does the Levi’s® Commuter™ Trucker Jacket work?
It all starts with a conductive yarn woven into the fabric—in the same way traditional materials are made—to create
an interactive textile that links seamlessly with services and applications through interactive touch. The digital
connectivity is provided through a smart tag, and apart from this detachable tag, the whole interactive garment is
washable and durable like regular denim. Simple inputs like swipes or taps on the jacket can connect to the device’s
functionality to control music and silence calls, where the touch then registers wirelessly to a phone or tablet.
Jacquard is a platform, and with the Levi’s® Commuter™ Trucker Jacket , you decide what it does for you. A fully
integrated app will allow the user to program the level of interaction with their device, and what features are most
important to them adjusting music volume, silencing a call, or getting an estimated ETA to their location.
When will the Levi’s® Commuter™ x Jacquard by Google Jacket be available?
The jacket will be available Spring 2017 in Levi’s® stories and on Levi.com.
How did Levi’s® & Google end up working together?
Both bring something very special to the table. The Levi’s® brand is built on innovation, creativity and a pioneering
spirit that has helped individuals around the world express their personal style for more than 140 years. Google ATAP
brings advanced knowledge of the technologies, platforms and digital systems needed to make wearables a viable
Why the Levi’s ® Commuter™ line?
The Levi’s® Brand has always been about purposeful design and creating products that meet a consumer need from
the 1800s when we first crafted jeans for miners to the 2000s when we introduced our Commuter line built for
today's urban cyclist. Our Levi’s® Commuter line has always been about purposedriven
design and solving real world
problems. Our goal is always to create clothes that perform as great as they look.
About Levi’s ® Commuter™
Levi’s® Commuter™, the pinnacle product of Levi’s® innovation, delivers stylish, performancedriven
solutions for the
urban cyclist. Originally designed with the urban cyclist in mind, today’s Commuter collection speaks to all global
urban commuters offering functionality, performance and purposeful style/design. Learn more:
About Project Jacquard
Project Jacquard makes it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into any textile using standard, industrial
looms. Everyday objects such as clothes and furniture can be transformed into interactive surfaces. This is possible
thanks to new conductive yarns, created in collaboration with our industrial partners. Jacquard yarn structures
combine thin, metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns like cotton, polyester, or silk, making the yarn strong
enough to be woven on any industrial loom. Learn more www.projectjacquard.com .
- I/O 2016: ATAP session