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Google and Levi’s Smart Jacket Is High-Tech Fashion’s Future

Technology By
(Levi Strauss)
(Levi Strauss)

Reaching into your pocket for your iPhone may soon be a thing of the past. Enter Project Jacquard, a new venture by Google aimed at making clothes and textiles interactive.

Ivan Poupyrev, a technical program lead for Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects (ATAP), is the project’s founder. He likens the structure of textiles to the structure of touch screens—making the case that one can weave fabrics to recognize touch in the same way a mobile phone can.

Threads that are typically used to sew anything from blue jeans to couches are replaced with conductor threads made up of metallic alloys. To the human eye, it looks like yarn. What sets it apart is its conductivity.

This means that users—or wearers—can answer a phone call, skip to the next song on their music playlist, or even get driving directions—all from the technology woven into their sleeve.

(Levi Strauss)
(Levi Strauss)

Nick Hammond, a tailor at London’s famous suiting outpost Savile Row, says that tailoring methods have not changed for two centuries. He welcomes the innovation. And with a range of thread options, the material can be made visible or almost completely undetectable—allowing clothing designers to maintain their freedom of creativity.

For Poupyrev, the wearable tech goes beyond specialty designers. The art of blending technology into clothing is scalable and has the potential to be utilized on a wider industry level around the globe.

Project Jacquard has recently partnered with Levi’s. In 2017, they plan to target commuters on bikes by creating a jean jacket woven with conductive thread.

Learn more about how Project Jacquard is bringing together the worlds of software development and fashion design in the video below.