Google and Levi’s team up for $250 smart-jacket that controls your phone
Using ‘conductive yarns’ and Bluetooth tech, Levi’s and Google is back with a vengeance, out to prove its latest smart-jacket is something you need in your ‘wearables’ wardrobe.
Back in 2017, sitting under the radar, and the expectations of its creators, Jacquard by Google’s smart-jacket hit the market for almost US $350 and soon fizzled away. The original 2017 jacket had two problems: the sleeves were made too chunky as to accommodate the tech, and the jacket was too expensive.
Technology is always improving though, which is to say it’s getting smaller, and the new smart Levi’s jackets use a far smaller Bluetooth device. Weaved directly into the jacket by Jacquard, the new device allows the user to use their jacket sleeve as a kind of giant remote control.
With a simple swipe or tap on the left cuff of your jacket, you can communicate to your phone a host of different demands. The gestures are ‘swipe up’, ‘swipe down’, ‘double tap’, and ‘cover’ (holding your hand over the cuff). Each gesture can be mapped to a specific app or command. These range from Uber alerts, triggering Google Assistant, hearing traffic conditions, to taking photos on your phone from afar.
The Jacquard ‘Tag’ also provides vibrations to the wearer to alert them of specific information, one of which is telling you if you’ve left your phone behind somewhere. There’s also a small blinking light that can be mapped to provide various alerts.
If you’re an avid Levi’s wearer, you’re unlikely to notice a difference between this iteration and your trusty sherpa, the only difference according to The Verge is that the left cuff is slightly stiffer, other than that, no compromises have been made.
Ivan Poupyrev, who leads Jacquard at Google, notes that the current concerns phone addiction and points to wearables as a good solution:
"Right now there's a bit of a backlash against screens and people being so focused on the phone," he says. "The vision behind this is ambient computing and the idea of ambient computing is very opposite to the idea of the phone. The idea is that your functionality has multiple touch points, and you can access the same features, but from many different things."
The standard trucker jacket starts at US $198 while the sherpa jacket is US $248. Check out the website here.