Google partners with Levis Strauss to integrate wearable technology into its jeans, sportswear and other clothing. The tech giant and the apparel manufacturer aim to put the functions available on smartwatches and smart glasses into the garments.
During the Google I/O 2015, the tech giant’s ATAP unit demonstrated a cool, touch-sensitive fabric. Google and Levis Strauss will collaborate on Project Jacquard, which was introduced during the developer conference today. The tech giant through a Japanese firm developed conductive fibers, which can be woven into any textile.
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Google and Levi’s aims to empower the garment as a platform
Paul Dillinger, vice president of innovation at Levi Strauss said, “As far as yarn thickness goes, we’re not almost in the same ballpark. We are already in the same ballpark. Google has accepted the supply chain for what it is, and there’s no modification for any of the looms as we’ve been working with this.”
Dillinger emphasized that Google and Levi Strauss are working together to empower the garment as a platform. He clarified that the companies are not developing the garment as a device. He added that developers will be able to start developing an application for Project Jacquard.
“We’ve got the genius pirates at ATAP who can help us develop and deliver this platform,” added Dillinger. Levis Strauss is anticipating that the products under the Project Jacquard will available in the market by 2016.
Google built interactive element into the textile
Ivan Poupyrev, the technical program lead of Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) group at Google, said the company had been studying conductive garments for more than 20 years. According to him, they were able to “build the interactive element into the textile.”
“We join the yarns with a connector that enables you to connect to a mobile phone or tablet. It’s about the size of a regular Levi’s button and includes a power source and Bluetooth connection,” said Poupyrev.
Poupyrev added, “To make high-tech scalable and profitable, you need large volumes, but it goes against the nature of fashion to make a lot of a single product. We’re not the military. Fashion means variety, and this technology can work with virtually any kind of textile and garment, even sheer silks or lingerie.”
Dillinger and Poupyrev said Project Jacquard is a “platforming opportunity” for developers. Dillinger said the project will become a home to new applications that are not yet available today. He said, “The potential is that the input is the gesture – crossing your legs, swiping, waving, and lifting.” He also noted that people want to return to simplicity.
“If there’s a chance to enable the clothes that we already love to help us facilitate access to the best and most necessary of this digital world while maintaining eye contact with the person we’re eating dinner with, this is a real value. If we can deliver that value in the form of clothes that you as friends and fans of this brand already love, that is a project worth doing,” said Dillinger.