Levi’s New Jean Jacket Lets You Wear Google Assistant
Levi’s launched a new denim smart jacket with Google’s Project Jacquard technology. The Trucker Jacket allows users to interact with an Android device with a gesture or touch to their sleeve.
Jacquard is a Google project built to experiment with fiber electronics. The Trucker Jacket looks like an average jean jacket but it contains a small electronic tag which connects to a section of conductive fibers, all built into the sleeve. The tag connects by Bluetooth to an Android smartphone, and the conductive fibers act as a touchpad.
The Jacquard app lets users determine what the four different gestures, brushing in, brushing out, double-tapping, and covering the area, do. The gestures can activate Google Assistant, control music, take a photo, or operate several other apps. There are no speakers built into the jacket, so all of the audio elements assume the user is wearing headphones. The electronic tag can also vibrate or show different colored lights as a non-audio alert.
Levi’s and Google have been working together on this kind of apparel for a couple of years. The earlier version of the smart jacket had a much more obvious electronic tag with wires and was noticeably more awkward. It also retailed for $350. The new Trucker Jacket comes in men’s and women’s sizes, starting at $198. Levi’s is also selling a premium fleece-lined “Sherpa” edition of the jacket starting at $248.
Weaving Google Into Devices
The conductive fiber used in the Trucker Jacket could be the future of smart clothing as the electronic fibers are discreet even to the wearer and are machine washable. However, the price point makes the jacket a hard sell when it is essentially just another smartphone accessory. Earbuds, smartwatches, and even smart glasses provide the same features with even more functionality. Much like other wearable technology, the jacket could reduce the time spent looking at phone screens while not missing any notifications while also being a staple in the user’s closet.
The jacket, or at least the technology behind it, fits neatly into Google’s efforts to give people access to Google Assistant in any context. Google launched Ambient Mode for its smartphones last month, which turns a mobile device into a slightly limited smart speaker powered by Google Assistant. Meanwhile, Google started integrating its voice assistant into its next generation of Nest Wi-Fi routers and people in India can call up the voice assistant from any phone, regardless of internet access. The jacket will probably not be involved in Google’s big product event next week, but it shows the technological advances being made by Project Jacquard and the future of smart clothing.