All it takes is a split second and you could end up flying over your bike’s handlebars. No one can question the dangers around answering a call or looking at a text while riding a bike – especially while commuting alongside traffic. The only solution is to get rid of the temptation altogether. After about a year’s worth of anticipation, Google has introduced their ‘connected’ denim Levi’s jacket. Powered by Jacquard technology, Google’s smart jacket is fully equipped with gesture-based sensors – allowing bike commuters the ability to answer incoming calls/text messages hands-free – reducing the risk of roadside distractions. Always a good thing.
Jacquard technology – a connected apparel platform – is the brainchild of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group (ATAP) and it’s been a year-in-the-making. By strategically weaving the Jacquard sensors into the sleeve of Levi’s denim jacket, users are capable of accepting calls, replying to text messages, adjusting volume controls, and navigating Google Maps. The cuff on the denim jacket has been transformed into an interactive command center – all it takes is just a simple swipe or tap.
“We’ll learn a lot from this launch, and that’s what we’re most excited about right now,” a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch. “What’s next is now – we’re going to listen to feedback. From those learnings, we have the opportunity to evolve abilities within the jacket since jacquard is a platform and to consider the next version of the jacket, or other items.”
With functionality that normally needs a companion device, the Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket allows users to start/stop their music, get directions, and read incoming text messages. According to a recent ATAP press release, the gesture-sensing sensors; aka “jacquard threads,” are woven into the jacket’s cuffs – then “wirelessly connected to the wearer’s mobile phone using tiny electronics embedded inside the sleeve in a flexible snap tag.”
“With Jacquard technology woven into the very fabric of your clothes, you can connect to your digital life instantly and effortlessly. With a literal brush of your cuff, you can navigate your life while living it.”
So how does Google’s smart jacket work? Using the combination haptic vibration technology and LED smart lighting, Levi’s jacket notifies the wearer of an incoming message. The jacket comes with an iOS/Android compatible smartphone app that allows users to fully customize the notification experience. The only foreseeable challenge is whether or not the technology surpasses the functionality of Bluetooth connected earbuds.
The Difference Maker
So what’s the difference between wearing the Commuter Trucker Jacket versus popping in a set of wireless earbuds (Zolo Liberty+, Air Headphones, Bragi Dash, Sound Headphones)? For one, Google’s jacket uses gesture-based sensors so it eliminates the act of fishing for your smartphone while riding your bike. In addition, earbuds block out the peripheral traffic noise making it a rather dangerous situation for cyclists. Google’s connected jackets keep all your senses intact with the added bonus of a rugged denim shielding you from the elements.
- The Levi’s Commuter Trucker comes with the following features:
- Play or pause your music, skip to the next track, or ask what song is playing².
- Get your next direction, ETA, or the current time.
- Receive updates on incoming call or texts with a subtle LED light and a vibration on your sleeve, and have the text message read to you.
Gauging Interest in the Wearables Market
With today’s (September 27, 2017) release of the Levi’s Commuter Trucker, Google is able to showcase its groundbreaking jacquard technology to the masses with a staple in American fashion; at the same time, Google’s ATAP is gauging the interest level inside an exploding wearables market. The jacket will be available for purchase at the following locations: Kinfolk in Brooklyn, N.Y., Fred Segal in West Hollywood, C.A., and Concepts in Boston. It will be available for online purchase on October 2nd and in select Levi’s stores located in Santa Monica, Chicago, and San Francisco.
“Jacquard by Google transforms clothing. It’s an entirely new take on wearables that lets you do more than ever with the things that you love and wear every day.” It will be interesting to see how the collaboration between Google and Levi’s plays out as it plans to offer a truly revolutionary wearable technology inside an iconic denim jacket.
About Project Jacquard
Project Jacquard is a new system for weaving technology into fabric, transforming everyday objects, like clothes, into interactive surfaces. Project Jacquard will allow designers and developers to build connected, touch-sensitive textiles into their own products.
About Google’s ATAP
Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) is a skunkworks team and in-house technology incubator, created by former DARPA director Regina Dugan. ATAP is similar to X, but works on shorter projects, granting project leaders only two years in which to move a project from concept to proven product. According to Dugan, the ideal ATAP project combines technology and science, requires a certain amount of novel research, and creates a marketable product within the two-year time frame.