Google's mission with its Advanced Technology and Products group is to create innovations like Project Jacquard, which can turn objects into interactive, gesture-controlled surfaces. With the Levi's Commuter jacket, introduced in 2016, the technology comes to life through a conductive fabric and a Bluetooth device that attaches to the garment. The connected area consists of 15 threads on the left sleeve, just visible enough for you to know where to touch to trigger actions from a paired smartphone.
You can, for example, brush your fingers on the jacket to find out what time it is, or swipe to play, pause or skip a track while you're listening to music. There's a companion Android app, called Project Jacquard, that lets you select what you want each gesture to bring up -- and the UI is mostly drag and drop, making it extremely easy to set up. Levi's says it's working to add support for additional gestures later on, which could enable more ways for you to interact with its first smart jacket.
Battery life, meanwhile, we're told is about two days, and the Bluetooth device can be easily unclipped and charged via USB. Aside from the Jacquard part of it and the black cuff, the new Commuter looks like any other piece from Levi's' line of denim jackets, meaning there aren't really any trade-offs in terms of comfort and style. You can even throw it in the washing machine without a worry, so long as the cuff isn't attached to the sleeve. In other words, no one would know you're wearing a jacket with a sci-fi twist to it.
Levi's is bringing the Google-powered Commuter to stores this fall for $350, and the company says it plans to use the technology in more ways eventually. Jacquard jeans, anyone?
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