Google Inc has decided that touch screens aren’t enough any longer. And it has decided that its customers deserve so much more than just a mere projection of a keyboard on their desks and walls.
Instead, the industry giant has decided to push the term “wearable technology” way outside the average sized box and start developing a project called Jacquard that they showed off just last week at their I/O developer conference.
Developed by Ivan Poupyrev in Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ARAP) division, and named after a weaving process, project Jacquard is a prototype for the time being.
If implemented later in the future, the technology would allow textile manufacturers to embed a new type of braided conductive thread into their cloth before passing it on fashion designers to turn into the next stylish (and inevitably smart) shirt, dress, jacket, pants, and so on.
Unlike the regular, already obsolete conductive thread commonly found in touch-screen-enabled gloves, this new conductive thread comes in every color and can be safely used with any of the industrial looms or machines currently available on the market.
When paired using a small Bluetooth device that runs on nothing more than a watch battery, the conductive thread will transform into a touch screen interface which picks up on the changes in conductance when touched and is ready to control any smartphone, tablet, TV or lighting system in sight.
Google Inc has already paired up with jeans manufacturer Levi’s in order to design practical, fashionable clothes that will also dub as smart devices by integrating the new conductive thread into special, specific touch-sensitive areas.
Their exact price and release date of the smart cloths are unknown for the time being, however Levi’s is pushing for an early 2016 date.
Having said that, Ivan Poupyrev gives us a reason as to why smart cloths may have taken so long to find themselves on the market, even though several companies have worked on the technology over the years.
He gave a statement saying that “The clothing industry makes 19 billion garments per year. Compare that to the 128 million smartphones made last year. So when we talk about interactive textiles, we need to think about it at the scale of clothes manufacturing, using existing supply chains and existing industrial weaving machines”.
Paul Dillinger, Levi’s VP of Innovation, is very excited about the project, saying that the innovative technology will allow the brand’s customers ti merge their virtual lives with their physical lives.
He explains that turning a pair of jeans or a jacket into a more natural environment for interacting with our mobile devices, will save us from having to give them our full attention if we receive a call or a message during an inconvenient moment, like when you’re driving or biking.
Poupyrev informs that no other material gets tortured and put through tests quite as much as denim does during the production faze. If project Jacquard survives this first step, it can then be used with other materials without there being any reason for concern.
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