The future of wearables is here, and it’s moved beyond smartwatches and clip-on fitness trackers. After more than two years of development, Levi’s Comuter x Jacquard smart jacket will soon be available to consumers. Levi’s developed the jacket through Google’s Jacquard program.
Jacquard by Google (formerly Project Jacquard) debuted in 2015 to show how interactive textiles can become a reality. These garments incorporate a unique braided conductive thread that can be dyed any color and withstand the rigors of everyday wear. Levi’s was among the first to jump onboard to incorporate it into denim. Initially, the company planned to use it for a pair of smart jeans. Eventually, the project evolved into a smart jacket designed for bike commuters. Since then, Levi’s harnessed hundreds of hours of user testing to help hone the jacket’s looks and function.
The result, the Levi’s Commuter, is a denim jacket with capacitive threads woven into its left sleeve. To communicate with your phone, there’s a small Bluetooth dongle that attaches to a button on its cuff. Once you’ve got the smart jacket, you pair it with your phone, then go through a tutorial in the jacket’s accompanying app. The jacket can automatically tell whether it’s being worn or not.
There are three gestures you can use on its sleeve, and you can customize what actions they map to (primarily audio-related). You can brush inward, brush outward, or double tap the sleeve to pause or play music, move to the next track, ask what’s playing, and more. You can also program your home or work address, and use it to get turn-by-turn directions. Touching and holding the sleeve will stop audio.
The app also includes some just-for-fun features, according to the Verge. For example, you can swipe your hands across the capacitive touch sleeve and see a visualization of that interaction in real-time on your phone.
The Levi’s Commuter smart jacket is the first commercial product to come out of the Jacquard program. It goes on sale Sept. 27 at a handful of boutique store locations, and then will be available in Levi’s stores (and its website) beginning Oct. 2. The jacket isn’t cheap though: It costs $350. That’s more than double the price of one of Levi’s standard trucker jackets, but roughly on par with designer denim.
If all goes well, we could be seeing a lot more of this type of touch-sensitive smart clothing in the future.
H/T the Verge