Why have a wearable on your wrist when you can have it all over your torso? Two years after first teasing us with their line of connected clothing, Google and Levi’s have delivered. The first piece to come out of Project Jacquard is theCommuter Trucker jacket, and you’ll have to pay $350 for the garment.
The key to the Commuter is the fabric of the jacket’s left sleeve. While technically powered by a rechargeable tag that’s found on the inside of the sleeve, the very material of the jacket is itself smart. Its comprised of a conductive yarn that could theoretically be woven into any fabric, and as a result, any sort of clothing. From there, you could just touch your clothing as you would a touchscreen in order to activate certain functionalities, like playing music.
At launch, Google said it was still working to figure out how third-party developers can contribute to the platform, and as such, it really only controlled the core functionality of your smartphone. Now, however, that seems to be changing — it has been announced that you’ll be able to connect either Lyft or Uber to the platform, so you can quickly and easily order a ride. After requesting a ride, the snap tag will light up and vibrate to notify you that your ride has arrived. Bose has also stepped in to offer some functionality in the jacket — users will be able to assign any gesture to turn on or off noise canceling on their QuietComfort 30 or QuietComfort 35 headphones.
“It was a long road but what’s really impressive, is the entire journey, we stayed true to our vision and what we wanted to achieve,” Ivan Poupyrev, project lead for Project Jacquard at Google, told Mashable. “This jacket is going to be sold as a piece of apparel, that was always the vision from the very beginning.”
Not only is it a good piece of clothing, but it also solves what Levi’s believes to be a significant need — a wearable that is functional and not dangerous.
“When you go to dinner and see your people at their meals looking at their screen, or when you see cyclists accessing their screens for navigation and putting themselves at risk … to me, that really was the reason to do it, ” said Paul Dillinger, Levi’s global product innovation head, at a SXSW discussion on connectivity.
We tested the jacket out for ourself, and found it to be pretty helpful. Not only is it stylish, but it also adds a whole new layer of digital functionality — like the smartwatch did before it.
Updated on May 14, 2018: Uber, Lyft, and Bose functionality has been added to the Project Jacquard jacket.