Levi’s and Google launched the first ‘smart’ jean jacket, the Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard by Google Trucker Jacket for urban cyclists.
The jacket looks like a simple piece of clothing with no flashing screens or hefty battery packs, but on a closer look one will find an error in weave with a black strap partially wrapped around the cuff of the sleeve. That’s the subtle piece of wearable technology.
This jacket is the result of a year-long collaboration between Levi Strauss & Co and Google’s Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) group, under the banner of Project Jacquard.
“Last year we left it quite open around what the product might be; it could have been jeans or smart pants. But what we’ve now got is a functional and fashionable garment in the Commuter Jacket, where technology is serving a very clear purpose,” says Ivan Poupyrev, technical program lead at Google’s ATAP.
Designed specifically to meet the needs of urban cyclists, the error found in the denim weave is in fact home to Jacquard technology – a conductive yarn that enables touch interactivity. Users can tap, swipe or hold on the left cuff of the sleeve to fulfill simple tasks like changing music tracks, blocking or answering calls or accessing navigation information (delivered by voice).
Using the Jacquard platform’s accompanying app, the users can configure what they want primary and secondary uses to be from several options ahead of time. They can also link it to other known platforms like Spotify and GPS tracker Strava. Importantly, all functions can be undertaken while riding. The strap is what then holds the necessary electronics to connect the garment on the go.
“Wearables as a category is potentially vast and we didn’t want to get lost in that territory. When Google started talking about the value of the solution, to us it was somewhat valueless unless it could be assigned to a very explicit proble. What we came up with was the urban cyclist, and once we got our heads around the fact this had amazing potential for the guy and girl we’re already talking to who loves their Levi’s, loves riding their bike and can really use this help, then the ideation process around the function became quite natural and fluid,” explains Paul Dillinger, VP of global product innovation, Levi’s.
The Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard by Google Trucker Jacket will go into beta testing this fall, where people from both commuter and tech communities will be invited to test the garment and provide feedback on the functionalities. It will then go to market for both men and women in spring 2017 in various US cities, before broader release in Europe and Asia later in the year.