This week, Google and Levi’s launched a jacket in the US that, to all intents and purposes, looks like a regular jacket. But when its sleeve is tapped or wiped, it does something pretty impressive.
The Commuter Trucker Jacket is embedded with Jacquard, a platform developed by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group that, via gesture-sensing threads and tiny electronics, connects with the wearer’s smartphone.
Once connected, different gestures – like tapping or wiping – can be assigned different digital tasks, like playing or pausing music, skipping to the next tune or getting directions. A vibrating sleeve, meanwhile, alerts users to incoming text messages (and calls), which can be read out.
The Commuter jacket is targeted at cyclists, who, while en route to work, obviously struggle to pull out and use their smartphone.
“Our focus has always been to add a new layer of connectivity and interactivity to things you already know, love and use every day,” Google said. “By starting with raw materials, such as yarns and textiles, we found ways to provide unprecedented access to the digital world through items that aren’t typically considered to be technology.”