March 13, 2017

Levi’s and Google are making a ‘smart jacket’ for $350

A year after its unveiling, Levi’s has finally announced a release date for its ‘smart jacket’.

Produced in a collaboration with Google, the Levi’s Commuter Trucker jacket is capable of connecting to a smartphone and controlling a few of its functions. Over the weekend at SXSW, the jacket, available in both men's and women's varieties, will hit store shelves this fall for about $350.

Unveiled to the public last year at Google I/O developer conference, the jacket’s tech element is embedded in a patch connected to its left sleeve. Wearers can tap or swipe the patch to send commands to a smartphone via an app and Bluetooth connection. Through the app, a wearer can connect inputs to desired outcomes. For instance, a double-tap could tell a smartphone to start playing music, or a swipe could tell the phone to answer a call.

The touchpad gets power with a small rechargeable "tag" that connects on the inside of its sleeve. The battery in the tag lasts around two days, according to a report from Mashable. The life of this battery may ultimately increase to more than two days.

The jacket is the first consumer product to come out of Project Jacquard, Levi’s attempt to weave technology into its clothes. On the Commuter Jacket, the technology is based on a unique fabric that's stitched with a conductive yarn. The yarn required for Jacquard can be stitched into almost any kind of fabric using industrial looms and the long-term objective, Levi's executives have said, is to have a whole "ecosystem" of smart clothing.

The special weaving is hardly noticeable on the Commuter Jacket, Mashable reported, and garment makers can completely blend the tech into clothes if desired.

The Trucker Commuter jacket is also the first product from Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group.  The search giant has said it’s currently trying to determine how to incorporate third-party developers into the platform to grow its functionality. Currently, it appears jacket is only capable of a few core functions, like controlling a music player or flipping through a digital calendar.


Image credit: Levi's/YouTube