Urban cyclists, have you heard the news? Partnering with Google, Levi, the inventor of the blue jean, is currently testing and set to launch a one-of-a-kind wearable tech jacket in Spring of 2017. With this smart jacket, you can control your music, answer an urgent phone call, and even access Google Maps as you’re biking to the office or taking a quick coffee break. All with a quick touch or swipe to the jacket’s cuff.
This Levi Commuter jacket will be part of Levi’s Commuter collection, designed for cycling urbanites. Riding a bike in the city is dangerous enough; with this jacket riders will be able to quickly control their phone, without needing to actually pull the phone out – a reckless move that could be life threatening!
This jacket cuff will house multi-touch sensors that are woven into the clothing. And a Jacquard tag will be embedded into the jacket sleeve to make this garment fully functional. This tag will connect with the built-in LED, haptics, battery, and sensors. The tag can be pulled out for charging via USB.
The Jacquard tag was developed by Project Jacquard, a Google ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) research unit that develops technology to make interactive textiles. This team at Google set out to create a yarn that was conductive, but still able to resist the stresses of industrial garment manufacturing. To take the textile and connect it to electronics, it was determined that only a small part of the garment needed to be interactive. Which is why just the cuff of the Levi jacket is interactive and electronic. The idea behind the Levi Commuter jacket is to make something fashionable that exemplifies a practical use of the technology.
For you fashionistas, you needn’t worry that the tech in the jacket will stand out or be noticeable as you wear it. This modern jacket was built to look like any other jacket, using the jacket’s button-hole to hide the technology. Fashion industry pay attention! The next big thing will be models walking down the runway with wearable smart jackets, each playing a mixture of musical selections.
Worried how you would wash this fragile piece of tech? Good news – it’s not fragile, in fact, you can treat this Levi jacket like the hand-me-down you received from Grandpa Joe in the 80’s. Throw it into a pile, bunch it up, mix it with your whites (just kidding, one should never do that!).
This wearable jacket includes a mobile application which allows you to select which phone apps you want to operate with the wearable clothing. In addition to controlling your calls, music, and navigation, you can also use third-party apps, such as Strava, a fitness app. Spotify user? You can control that too! Want to use a particular app? Google has announced that it will open up the software for third-party development – so I doubt the apps you’re longing for won’t be too far behind.
The current unknowns: Pricing and the comfort of the jacket.