Soon operating your IoT smart devices will be as simple as swiping the arm of your jacket. Just imagine dimming your Phillips Hue Light Bulbs by pressing a button on your jacket or silencing an incoming phone call by touching the sleeve of your coat. The giant clothing retailer Levi’s is making their first smart denim jacket equipped with Google Jacquard technology woven into the sleeve. The end result: a revolutionary utility jacket called the Commuter Trucker.
Google’s Project Jacquard
The real magic of Levis’ wearable is in its built-in touch-sensitive fabric. Developed by Google’s Project Jacquard, their proprietary yarn “uses thin, metallic alloys combined with standard yarn from materials like cotton or silk – making smart yarn that’s both touch-sensitive and strong enough to be woven into practically any piece of clothing.” This fabric control, according to a recent article in New Atlas, “can either have prominent stitching or woven seamlessly into a textile as a whole.”
Without the need to connect to a Bluetooth-enabled accessory device, Google’s fabric is housed in a tag located on the cuff of their denim jacket – so you can easily remove it and wash your jacket without compromising the built-in electronics. Levi’s new wearable is perfect for the cyclists or adventure sports athlete that needs a way to access navigational routes, listen to music playlists, or track performance without being distracted. There’s no need to reach for a smartphone – just simply swipe your arm and voila – the next track is queued up.
The Growth of Wearable Tech
Google’s touch fabric technology is a prime example of the growth the wearable technology industry has seen over the past two years. Ralph Lauren’s Polotech Shirt, for example, is equipped with OMsignal technology containing Bluetooth data reading sensors that measure heart rate, breathing, and calories burned as you workout. With three sensors woven into the fabric of the shirt, this shirt can track the wearer’s performance without the assistance of an accessory device.
Called “the footwear of the future,” the Lechal Mach Insoles are Bluetooth-enabled GPS navigators for your feet. The haptic vibrations you feel like a tap on your shoulder (but on your feet) and the user can easily configure the intensity and pulse patterns. If you get a small vibration in your right shoe, it’s time to go right. It’s as simple as slipping the insoles into your favorite shoe, programming your destination into the app, and you’re on your way.
To illustrate just how far wearable technology has come, Researchers at Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Dubendorf (EMPA) are now able to embroider a heart rate monitor into hospital garments. This is a fabric optic material that can be woven, knit, or embroidered into clothing and it’s fully washable.
From Ralph Lauren’s PoloTech shirt to Google’s Project Jacquard, smart sensors woven into activewear will bring the digital world to us wherever we go. We’ll soon be able to adjust our thermostats, dim our lights, and brew pots of coffee by simply swiping our sleeve and activating our IoT smart home devices. With controls strategically woven into our jackets, jeans, or shoes – missing that important call or not having access to personal assistants like Siri will be a thing of that past.