After smartwatches and Google Glass, your jeans may be the next piece of clothing that will help you access your tech without actually digging into your pockets. Levi's, also located in the Bay Area, is the first major American clothing designer to announce its partnership with Google's Project Jacquard, which looks to develop hi-tech clothing woven with conducive textile material — giving a whole new meaning to the term wearable tech.
Project Jacquard's developments have already produced a yarn containing ultra-thin alloys capable of transmitting Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and app information from your devices (but as of now, it only comes in gray). The threads can be woven into any existing fabric — including polyester, silk, and cotton — and connect to button-sized chips that react to gestures, monitor heart rate and body temperature, and perform any number of other tasks.
With Project Jacquard–laced fabric, you would be able to turn the sleeve of your blazer into a pseudo-touchscreen, and answer a phone call or dismiss a notification with the wave of your hand over the pocket of your favorite pair of 501s, but in a subtler, um, fashion. Google is still researching how to best incorporate battery and notification panels into garments.
"We want to make interactive garments at scale so everyone can make them and everyone can buy them," Ivan Poupyrev, the Google Advanced technical program leader of the project said at the company's annual developer conference in San Francisco on Friday.
Neither Google nor Levi's has announced price points, designs, styles, or release dates of the first "smart garments" to go on the market. In this time leading up to the technology's availability, though, we find ourselves asking why. Why is it necessary to make your pants another line to your phone, or connect your shirt to your FitBit just for the added convenience of not having to lift your wrist again. Is it to avoid spending your day looking down at your device, or simply saving the second it takes to pull out your phone?
More importantly, how do you launder smart jeans after you spill a little mustard at lunch?