Google wearables project makes clothing interactive
Announced at the Google I/O conference, the effort, called Project Jacquard – named for the inventor of the Jacquard loom, which simplified the process of manufacturing textiles with complex patterns – is intended to make it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into textiles while using standard industrial looms. For this to be possible, Google – in collaboration with industrial partners – has developed conductive yarns.
The yarns combine thin, metallic alloys along with natural and synthetic materials like cotton, polyester, or silk, making them indistinguishable from traditional yarns. Available in a variety of colors, they can be woven into textile to create specific interactive areas or large sensor grids.
Additional electronic components and techniques have been developed that are designed to complement the new yarns, and enable touch and gesture data to be transmitted wirelessly to smartphones or other devices. User feedback is provided via LEDs, haptics and other "embedded outputs."
Along with the announcement of Project Jacquard, Google’s ATAP group named clothing manufacturer Levi Strauss – known for its jeans and casual wear – as its first official partner. Paul Dillinger, Levi’s head of global product innovation, said, “In our hyper-digital world, people constantly struggle to be physically present in their environment while maintaining a digital connection. The work that Google and Levi’s are embarking upon with Project Jacquard delivers an entirely new value to consumers with apparel that is emotional, aspirational and functional.”