Almost two years ago, Google unveiled their plan to work alongside Levis to produce connected garments that would incorporate advanced tech. The first piece of this project is the Commuter jacket, which uses Google’s Jacquard technology to turn the denim into a canvas that is gesture-controlled.
The material is made from a conductive yarn, so those wearing the jacket are able to touch it as they would a touchscreen in order to activate functionalities such as playing music, asking for directions or answering a phone call. A companion Android app, named Project Jacquard, lets you select which gesture you want to bring up, with a drag and drop UI that is easy to use. Google have said that they are working with third-party developers on additional gestures later, allowing you to interact with the jacket even more.
At a retail price of $350, the smart jacket is powered by a rechargeable tag in the left sleeve and battery life is said to last around 2 days. The bluetooth chip is easily disconnected and charged via a USB. Other than that, the jacket looks like any other Levi’s denim jacket and you can even wash it in the washing machine without any worries.
“It was a long road but what’s really impressive, is the entire journey, we stayed true to our vision and what we wanted to achieve,” said Ivan Poupyrev, project lead for Project Jacquard at Google, “This jacket is going to be sold as a piece of apparel, that was always the vision from the very beginning.”
As it is a Google product, the jacket may not work as well with an iPhone but it is still a less dangerous option, for cyclists in particular, than checking your phone screen for important info while commuting.