Levi's, in collaboration with Google's ATAP division, is finally going to put its connected jean jacket on sale this fall.
Two years ago, at Google I/O 2015, Google unveiled a project that it called Jacquard. The idea was simple: use existing fabrics like cotton, nylon, polyester and silk as conduits for touch gestures, using a tiny computer and a Bluetooth radio to transit information to a phone.
At the time, Project Jacquard was just a prototype, but a year later, during 2016's iteration of Google's developer conference, the company announced a collaboration with Levi's — the seminal denim maker — to create a commuter jacket that would accept input.
The jacket, which accepts swipes and taps to do things like change songs on a playlist or turn on connected lights, will cost around $350 when it goes on sale this fall. And while it's the first such commercialized product to come out of Google's ATAP branch, it is unlikely to be the last. The potential for connected clothing is enormous, and with the miniaturization of computers and other necessary sensors, the actual aesthetic impact will be minimal.
Other companies, like Montreal's OMsignal, have already developed and begun selling connected sportswear, mainly to track things like heart rate and other vital functions. Jacquard appears to have a more mainstream outlook, with the goal of selling regular people, not just high-intensity athletes, on doing things without pulling out a phone or tapping on a smartwatch screen.