Weaving the future of Apparel Tech – Google Project Jacquard

Wearable technology has fascinated me for some time now. My first brush began when I was prototyping a workshop for my hobby venture Kynkr. I stumbled upon Exploratorium’s sewn circuits workshop by the Tinkering Studio. The result – I created using conductive threads, a wearable tiara with lit up led lights and a magic wand that lit up too. The conductive thread held huge possibilities for the fashion world to my mind. I was very excited to hear about Google Project Jacquard which makes use of such conductive threads to fashion wearable interactive garments.

conductive thread

Conductive thread feels, looks and behaves like a real textile thread or yarn. I am saying this from first-hand experience. So it is no wonder then that a tech giant like Google was thinking about this possibility before me! It gives such pleasure for an apparel and technology enthusiast like me to see the global tech companies getting interested in our fashion world. I just had to pitch in to promote it and spread the word. So I am writing about Google’s Project Jacquard.

Project Jacquard makes it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into any textile using standard, industrial looms. Everyday objects such as clothes and furniture can be transformed into interactive surfaces. See the video here.

Jacquard yarn structures combine thin, metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns like cotton, polyester, or silk, making the yarn strong enough to be woven on any industrial loom.

Jacquard yarns are indistinguishable from the traditional yarns that are used to produce fabrics today.

Using conductive yarns, bespoke touch and gesture-sensitive areas can be woven at precise locations, anywhere on the textile. Alternatively, sensor grids can be woven throughout the textile, creating large, interactive surfaces.

So gear up folks. We can look forward to crazy possibilities with these conductive fabrics being used in the fashion industry. We can think of interactive garments that will connect to our devices wirelessly. We can think of Designers using it as they would any fabric, adding new layers of functionality to their designs, without having to learn about electronics. Developers will be able to connect existing apps and services to Jacquard-enabled clothes and create new features specifically for the platform.

One of the manufacturers working at the forefront is Cintas which recently announced a joint collaboration with Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group (ATAP) to explore advancing Project Jacquard into the enterprise space. Cintas and ATAP are collaborating to advance use cases in work environments, with the goal of developing Jacquard-enhanced uniforms. Exciting times ahead.

Levis the apparel giant recently tied up with Google to design interactive denim jacket. It’s fascinating to see this product story. You must check out the video here.

These connected and interactive denim garments are indistinguishable from the brand’s traditional clothing. They remain the iconic garments that we know and love, but they are enhanced with digital functionality. The digital connectivity is provided through a smart tag that houses all the necessary electronics, and apart from this detachable tag, the whole interactive garment is washable and durable like regular denim.

levis communter jacket using google project jacquard

Jacquard allows wearers to control their mobile experience and connect to a variety of services, such as music or maps, directly from the jacket. This is especially useful when it might be difficult to use the smart phone, like when you are riding on your bike.

Learn more about Levi’s® Commuter™ and the 2017 release of the Commuter™ Trucker Jacket with Jacquard technology woven in at www.levi.com. Do check out the video here.

Perhaps of most interest is that this jacket isn’t some far-off pipe dream, as it turns out — it will “launch” into beta testing this fall, then become publicly available in spring 2017, says Google. As per this article in Tech Crunch.

 

A toast to the future of apparel tech!

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