'The left sleeve on the blue denim jacket I’m wearing looks like a normal textile. But if I brush my right hand over that small part of the garment, moving inwards, a robotic voice announces the time through my Bluetooth headphones. Moving my hand across it outwards — like I’m pushing crumbs off the sleeve — prompts the Google Assistant to tell me the weather. If I double-tap it, any song I’m listening to skips back to the beginning.
The jacket emerged from a collaboration between Levi's and Google; it's part of a Google project called Jacquard. Conductive fibers in one portion of the sleeve connect to a chip, also in the sleeve, and a 1.5-inch black electronic component plugs into a portal at the cuff. That acts as a Bluetooth bridge between the garment and your phone.
Using the corresponding app, you can determine what the different gestures you make on the sleeve actually do (the jacket is mostly meant to be used with headphones on). If you want that “brush in” to announce the name of the song playing, it can do that, too. Likewise, the “brush out” and “double tap” motions can perform various functions, like skipping ahead to the next track or just playing or pausing what you’re listening to. If you want, the black component that plugs in can display a blue blinking light if someone calls or texts you, or a green light when your Uber arrives.
Make no mistake: this product does not need to exist, and you shouldn’t buy one unless you’re absolutely in love with the idea of owning one and have money to spare. Jackets that are not smart still keep you warm and looking stylish, and your phone and Bluetooth headphones work just fine without a smart textile in the loop. Apple’s AirPods, for example, allow you to customise what a double-tap on either the left or right bud accomplishes, like playing or pausing your tunes, meaning that some of the jacket’s functionality already exists in the buds in your ears.'
Read more: Google and Levi's built a new gesture-sensing smart jacket (on the road to microchipped people - so transparent)
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