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Imagine a piece of technology woven in your clothes in such a way that the surface of that dress or shirt you are putting on can be transformed into an interactive surface just like the screen on your smartphone. Well the future is here, with Project Jacquard. Google’s ATAP division partnered Levi’s to make the world’s commercial smart jacket, which will cost around Ugx 1.3 million (minus taxes) when it goes on sale.

Connected clothes offer new possibilities for interacting with services, devices, and environments. Jacquard allows wearers to control their mobile experience and connect to a variety of services, such as music or maps, directly from the jacket. This is especially useful when it might be difficult to use the smart phone, like when you are riding on your bike.

Project Jacquard smart jackect 2
The Levi’s® connected jacket

How it works

Well, it uses conductive fabric to turn a standard piece of clothing into a connected device of sorts that can send messages/notifications to your smartphone, like pausing or skipping a song that’s playing by double tapping your wrist. If you have used a smartwatch before, you should be able to get the drill, but less obtrusive and certainly a lot more stylish.

With products like this, the future of wearable tech is still brighter than ever. According to the makers of the jacket, Jacquard yarn structures combine thin, metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns like cotton, polyester, or silk, making the yarn strong enough to be woven on any industrial loom.

To make this smart connected jacket reality, they used conductive yarns, bespoke touch and gesture-sensitive areas could then be woven at precise locations, anywhere on the textile. Also, sensor grids are also woven throughout the textile, creating large, interactive surfaces.

Project Jacquard smart jackect _ weaving
Levi’s® connected Smart Jacket: Weaving interactive textiles

How the electronics was embedded into the Jacket

They had to put in all electronics in such away that it doesn’t change the Jacket’s aesthetics. Levis says; “We developed innovative techniques to attach the conductive yarns to connectors and tiny circuits, no larger than the button on a jacket. These miniaturized electronics capture touch interactions, and various gestures can be inferred using machine-learning algorithms.”

At the end of the day, the captured touch and gesture data is wirelessly transmitted to mobile phones or other devices to control a wide range of functions, connecting the user to online services, apps, or phone features. While using the jacket, LEDs, haptics, and other embedded outputs will provide feedback to the user.

Project Jacquard smart jackect _ electronics
Levi’s® connected Smart Jacket: Embedding electronics

Developers will be able to connect existing apps and services to Jacquard-enabled clothes and create new features specifically for the platform. The jacket will to on sale later this year.

But at UGX 1.3 (less taxes), are you ready to own a piece of the tech-textile future? Leave us a comment below.

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