Google is all about ambient computing these days. From TVs to speakers, the company is prioritizing smarter, more connected technology. Google began making smart clothing when it started Project Jacquard back in 2015. Since then, the project has produced things like jackets with Levi and shoe insoles with Nike. Now Google is announcing its latest fabric-based innovation: two new backpacks developed with Samsonite. And they start at prices low enough for normal people to actually consider buying one.
Last week, Google's Advanced Technology and Projects unit teased a collaboration centered around its Project Jacquard smart clothing tag featuring sportsgear brand Adidas and video game publisher Electronic Arts. Well, the teasing's over now and what we've got are a new pair of insoles that are meant to get you (or your kids) playing real soccer while also acing virtual soccer in EA Sports FIFA Mobile. Adidas calls it GMR.
Levi's and Google are partnering once again to deliver two new jackets with Google's touch-sensitive Jacquard technology built-in. With these products, Google and Levi's are preparing to bring Jacquard to a wider audience. The first collaboration between the two companies resulted in the Commuter Trucker Jacket, which launched in 2017 for $350. Thankfully, these new jackets are significantly cheaper, with the standard version starting at $198. While the Commuter Jacket was an entirely new product, these new Jacquard-equipped jackets are based on Levi's classic trucker jacket.
These days, Google's hardware may be all about phones, tablets, laptops, and smart-home gear, but it also continues to experiment with wearables — some more eccentric than others. And while you might know a friend who has a Clips camera, or once spotted someone in public sporting Google Glass, the Commuter X Jacquard smart jacket from Levi's and Google has got to be one of the most low-key of the company's wearable projects. For those of you who have picked one up, we've got some cool news for you today, as Google introduces a new Always Together mode designed to prevent you from leaving your phone (or jacket) behind.
Remember the Jacquard-equipped Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket, the $350 smart jacket that can only be washed a few times? Probably not, largely because about three people bought it and it's just a silly concept. But for the few who did purchase one, Google has updated the companion app to add a couple of new features, including Uber/Lyft integration and Bose's Aware Mode.
When it went on sale in late September, Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket was the first piece of clothing to integrate Google's Project Jacquard touch-gesture functionality. At $350 a pop, it's not a surprise that the Jacquard by Google app (which is used to customize and control the jacket) shows just 100-500 installs. That means a few hundred people will be delighted to learn that the app just got its first major update, which lets wearers of the Jacquard-woven jacket use gestures that enable new light modes for the tag on the sleeve, as well as find their phone.
Google kept Motorola's ATAP (Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group) when it sold the company a few years ago, but some high-profile projects like Ara have failed to materialize. Now, the ATAP division is finally bearing fruit. The Project Jacquard touch-sensitive fabric first demoed more than two years ago is coming to market as a collaboration with Levi's. The new Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket launches this Wednesday for $350.
Google I/O 2016 came to a close on Friday, and it marked our sixth year in attendance to Google's annual developer bash. A great many topics were covered from divisions all over Google, with lots of announcements big and small, both consumer and developer-facing. Our first I/O recap covered the front half of the show, while Mark takes a look at some of the announcements from Google's ATAP division as well as shares some thoughts on the show and news overall this year.
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.