Imagine if you could control your phone and favourite mobile apps with a simple touch of a jacket sleeve while cycling along.
Science fiction? Maybe, but it's soon to be science fact in the shape of Levi’s Commuter Trucker jacket with Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects (ATAP’s) Project Jacquard technology woven in.
Project Jacquard is designed to make it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into any textile using standard industrial looms. By combining thin metallic alloys together with more commonplace yarns like cotton or silk, the garment can almost invisibly add smart capabilities.
The processing brains are hidden in a chip smaller than a jacket button, which can be hidden in a pocket and removed when it needs washing. The rest of the jacket is perfectly washable, say the makers – though you may prefer not to get caught in a rainstorm.
These miniaturised electronics capture touch interactions, and gesture data is wirelessly transmitted to mobile phones or other devices to control a wide range of functions, connecting the user to online services, apps, or phone features. So you can be cycling down the street and get haptic input on which way to turn, for instance, or get a phone call alert.
Co-pilot for your life?
"Anyone on a bike knows that navigating your screen while navigating busy city streets isn’t easy – or a particularly good idea," said Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation for Levi Strauss & Co. "This jacket helps to resolve that real-world challenge by becoming the co-pilot for your life, on and off your bike."
This new Levi’s Trucker Jacket is the first piece of smart clothing to be produced under Project Jacquard, and it’ll be on sale from spring 2017 – pricing yet to be confirmed, though it’ll almost certainly be well above the £140 / $140 pricing of the 'regular' Commuter Trucker Jacket.
There are reports that there will be some beta test versions available later this year – we’ll be getting one in as soon as it’s available…