Google and Levi’s denim jacket can control your smartphone

Google and Levi Strauss have developed a smart jacket with touch sensitive electronics that will let you control your smartphone by hand gestures on the sleeve of the denim jacket. The Commuter x Jacquard Trucker jacket is a product of the collaboration of Google and Levi Strauss, has sensors on the wrist that create a touch sensitive patch on the fabric which works like a trackpad you can control with your finger. On the cuff of the sleeve is a smart tag, which is detachable and links the jacket to your smartphone and applications.

The Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket was developed with assistance from Google’s Advanced Technologies and Products (ATAP) division, which has been working on ways to integrate into sensors into textiles. The jacket is made with conductive yarn that combines thin metallic alloys with synthetic and natural yarns like silk, cotton or polyester to produce a textile with touch sensitive areas on the fabric. These areas or patches can be positioned at any location on the textile, irrespective of the design of the clothing. The size of the touch receptive fabric trackpad or interactive areas can be weaved to be large or small.

Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss gave some insight on the Commuter x Trucker jacket. He said that the jacket is aimed at cyclists who are busy riding and cannot reach in their pockets for their smartphones while riding through the city. During the demo of the jacket, a member of the ATAP team gave a rundown of the various functions. By swiping down or up on the jacket sleeve you can control the volume, tap to silence incoming phone calls, gestures and swipes to get direction from maps.

The technology is very stealthily built into the fabric and the jacket looks like any regular denim jacket. The conductive yarns are strikingly similar to traditional yarns and Google says that they are strong enough to be woven into fabric on any industrial loom. The jacket is completely waterproof and you can even wash it. “Just remove the smart tag and put it in the washing machine. This is technology you can wash if it gets dirty,” said Paul Dillinger.

Dillinger said that if people want to answer phone calls or control music on their phone, it “can be done with a swipe” of the garment. A video demonstration of a bicyclist wearing the jacket in action showed how a small swipe of the jacket’s sleeves could either trigger a song to play or a decline to answer a phone call. With taps and swipes, you will be able to get voice guided directions and tips on nearby locations and interact with applications like Spotify and Google maps.

The Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard jacket should be available in Levi’s stores and Online by the Spring of 2017. The jacket will be undergoing beta testing this Autumn. Google or Levi’s have not yet announced any pricing scheme of the jacket. ATAP technical program lead, Ivan Poupyrev says that the Levi’s jacket is just a start for Project Jacquard and we hope to see formal, sports and casual clothing made with conductive yarns in the near future.

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