Combining metallic alloys with natural or synthetic threads, Google's ATAP and its industrial partners have created Jacquard yarn. Named for Joseph Marie Jacquard's inventions, the yarn is the basis for ATAP's Project Jacquard, an effort to make it easy for textile makers to weave interactive surfaces into everyday textiles like clothes and furniture. These surfaces would ultimately control things like mobile devices, and perhaps evolve into experiences and functions of their own. Jacquard yarn allows these new surfaces to either be plainly visible or completely hidden from the user so, just like regular yarn, designers can decide exactly how a surface will appear - or not appear, as the case may be.
But yarn is only half the story - as the video above explains, there are more components needed to make Jacquard yarn useful in textiles, and ATAP is working to miniaturize the components into something the size of a button or smaller, for discreet placement (though batteries will undoubtedly remain a sore spot).
Interactive textiles seem to be an idea that's floated around for a while now, so seeing some progress in the area from Google - whose first official partner is Levi's - is encouraging. Maybe some day interactive jeans will become a must-have wearable.
- Project Jacquard