This new and innovative smart jacket isn't just the latest love child of tech and style, it's washable, too.
That's not something you usually hear about wearable technology. Water and electronics don't mix, but they'll have to in Google and Levi's new collaboration. Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group formed Project Jacquard, which then partnered up with Levi's to create the jacket.
So how exactly does this smart jacket work? You can “turn on” the jacket by plugging a specialized USB stick into an inlet in the left cuff. You then need to clip the other end of the pliable stick onto the cuff, much like a cuff link. When the button on that end of the stick briefly lights up, that's how you'll know that all systems are go.
It's the stuff of science fiction, except that it's here and it's about to hit the market.
Wearers can engage and interact with the jacket through an invisible touch interface on the left cuff. You can then remotely control your smart phone by interacting with the interface. Amazingly, the interface is completely unnoticeable. The jacket looks, well, like a jacket. Aside from the brief blue light that appears when you turn the jacket on, there's no indication that the jacket is wearable tech.
Google and Levi's found a simple yet intriguing way to make the jacket both wearable and washable. The two companies wove conductive fibers, which are touch- and gesture-sensitive, into the fabric itself. This way, the inputs the wearer makes on the cuff actually registers in the connected smart phone. You just have to remove the USB/cuff link before tossing the jacket into the wash.
The smart jacket has capabilities like adjusting your music's volume, controlling Spotify, answering incoming calls, and getting directions. You won't be shooting lasers or contacting the mothership with the jacket any time soon, but you won't have to whip your phone out anymore if you don't want to.
Also, you'll actually want to wear this particular wearable tech. Since Levi's had a hand in its creation, the creators actually did take style into account. After all, what's the sense of having a smart jacket if it clashes with everything else in your closet?
The jacket looks like Levi's classic trucker jacket. It looks and feels like denim; it is denim, just with a little more science woven into it. It even has Levi's commuter line's characteristic concealable reflective strips, which you can reveal to increase your visibility.
Of course, the smart jacket isn't cheap. If you want it, you'll have to fork out $350 to get it. It's cheaper than the Apple Watch, though, so it might be the better choice if you want wearable tech. However, the software app that controls the jacket apparently still needs some work. No need to worry, though, since it'll probably be ready by the time the jacket is released.
The smart jacket is set to hit store shelves in the fall.
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