It’s being dubbed ‘Project Jacquard’ and not many details have been revealed about the collaboration, but that didn’t stop Google from speaking about it at its annual developer conference, Google I/O.
Project Jacquard is nowhere near completion, with Google hoping to have clothes on the market with the ability to display information from, interact with, transmit to and relay data from nearby devices in 2016.
The partnership with Levi Strauss envisions a future where jeans are woven with special ‘Jacquard’ thread which would enable control of a nearby smartphone, like an Android or iPhone device, with a simple tap of the wearer’s lap.
While a 2016 date is being targeted, that’s by no means Google’s lack of working technology, as the company has already demonstrated that it exists and already works.
The challenge for Project Jacquard now is getting designers to work with the technology in creative ways and to find an actual use-case for why people will want to control their phones or other smart devices from their clothes.
The conductive fibres are being produced by a Japanese firm in partnership with Google; the goal for the technology is for it to be woven into almost any wearable textile from denim to cotton.
Google has also ensured that clothing manufacturers don’t need to make any real changes to the way they produce clothes either, as Jacquard thread works on all existing sewing machinery.
“The challenge of creating Jacquard yarn was to create yarn that is highly conductive and at the same time scalable,” says Ivan Poupyrev, Project Jacquard founder and technical program lead at Google’s Advanced Technology and Products group.
“Which means it could be used on industrial weaving machines everywhere in the world.”
“For textile designers … it is interesting because it is something you are very familiar with. It’s just textile,” adds Shiho Fukuhara, textile development and partnership lead for Project Jacquard.