Google has partnered with Levi’s to build the first denim jacket with gesture-sensing fabric, so you can perform functions on your phone just by swiping your jacket.
If you’re unfamiliar with Project Jacquard, it’s a work in progress from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects that was unveiled at Google I/O 2015. The tech is built into the very fabric of clothes, and can recognize certain gestures, which Google is initially utilizing for biking.
Google’s ATAP division recently demoed the first-ever Levi’s Commuter jacket with Jacquard technology. If you saw this jacket on someone in the street, you’d likely think that it’s just an ordinary garment. That’s because Google wants the clothes to stay as normal looking as possible, and the only thing that may look slightly different is the Jacquard Tag.
The tag sits on the sleeve and resembles a trench coat’s cuff strap, though it’s actually something you can take out and connect to a computer. Once it’s in and you’re wearing the jacket, you can swipe or tap to perform actions on your phone. Google showed a video of a man riding his bike and tapping or swiping his sleeve to pin a location to Google Maps, answer calls, and more.
While Levi’s Commuter jacket will be available in the Spring of 2017, Google says the Jacquard platform will be open to any clothing manufacturer that wants to implement Google’s gesture-sensing fabric into its clothes. And the company isn’t just thinking about biking — it’s planning on moving into athletic- and business-wear to expand the capabilities of Jacquard.
You’ll be able to control not just Google services through your clothes, but also third-party services like Spotify and Strava. The search giant said it will release its APIs for any developer to integrate the Jacquard platform into their services. The beta will be available in the fall of 2016.
On stage, a representative from Levi’s played the next song by swiping his sleeve, and also checked to see when his next appointment was — the response came via Google’s voice assistant, which you’d presumably hear via earbuds connected to your phone.
The announcement also paired with a celebratory day for Levi’s, which marks May 20 as the 144 anniversary of the blue jeans. Google also announced updates to other ATAP projects, including Project Ara, its modular phone technology. and Project Soli, radar-sensing tech that lets you control objects with gestures in mid-air.