Project Jacquard – Smart Clothing by Google
“Smart” technology dominates our lives; mobile smart tech even more so. We are glued to our smart watches, phones and tablets as we expect tech to mesh with our lives, to predict what we’ll want, to recommend places to eat and to even monitor our sleep. Soon this technology will become more skin-tight and mobile than ever thanks to the guys at Google who have taken wearable, smart technology to whole new heights with their “Project Jacquard” smart clothing.
“Looking smart” is just about to take on a whole other meaning.
What is Project Jacquard?
Project Jacquard is the brainchild of Ivan Poupyrev and the ATAP (Advanced Tech & Products devision) at Google. At the 2016 Google I/O Google announced the project, which sees the seamless merging of textiles and technology to create fully responsive “smart clothing.”
The connected clothing is touch-sensitive, which means it can be interacted with through touches and gestures. Further “smart tabs” embedded into the clothing wirelessly transmit information to your phone through these touch interactions, so you can control numerous functions on the phone, receive app notifications and connect to online content.
All the while, this smart fabric acts like normal fabric in that can be made into fashion pieces, can be washed and worn and even shares the same texture. The process has been worked out in such a way that it can be used on any industrial loom-weaving machine, making the textile available anywhere.
Cool. But How Does it Work?
Thin, highly conductive, metal alloys are woven together with natural or synthetic materials such as cotton or polyester, to create gesture and touch-sensitive grids on the clothing, which act much like a touch screen.
Further “smart tabs” similar to a USB stick are manufactured to be no bigger than a button and can be inserted into the connected fabric without being seen or felt by the wearer. This device is able to capture all touch interactions and gestures by using machine-learning algorithms. The touch data it collects is wirelessly transmitted to a mobile phone or other devices.
The smart tab is fitted out with an LED light and a haptic vibrator, which, In turn, can alert the user to notifications it receives from the device is it connected to.
So Why Was This Launched?
The whole drive behind Project Jacquard is to make our interaction with technology much more intuitive and natural. By wearing the smart clothing you’re in and simply swiping along a collar to make a phone call for instance, we are able to blend apps, products and devices with our lives and needs more seamlessly. It takes “hands free” to a whole new level, completely eliminating the middle man that is the device, and simply living in the technology.
Related: Best Smart Clothing – A Look at Smart Fabrics
How Has Google Pursued TheProject?
Google has partnered with Levis to bring the best of Jacquard and the possibilities of incorporating different fabrics together. Levi Strauss and Co (Levis for short) is the pioneer of the jean fabric, bringing it to the world in 1871. It is only fitting, then, for such a company to be working on a new pioneering project. Hitting the shops in 2017, Google and Levis are bringing out the “Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket,” a “smart” biker jeans jacket for “the urban bike commuter.” A smart jeans jacket? Huh?
This jacket and Jacquard et al is where style and functionality meet.
The jacket is styled much like any standard jeans jacket save for a touch-sensitive patch on the left cuff, from which a smart tab sticks out. The idea here is to make a jacket that eliminates all the hassles bike riders usually encounter on their commute, like having to stop and fumble for a phone every time they want to change a song or answer a call. Talk about a buzz kill.
The smart tab on the cuff flashes to alert you to incoming calls, (which you can either take or ignore by swiping along the cuff). You can change your music mix (the corresponding app is compatible with Spotify) and get directions to just about anywhere by voice instructions transmitted through your headphones via Google Maps.
Got so distracted by the new freedoms the smart jacket provides and accidentally fell into a dirty puddle? No problem. Simply remove the smart tab and throw the jacket into the washing machine just like any other jeans jacket
James Bond – Eat Your Heart Out
Project Jacquard has opened an entirely new arena for not only tech buffs, but fashion designers and fashionistas- tech and art; it’s where the two worlds will finally marry.