Project Jacquard was created by Google’s Advanced Technology and Progress (ATAP) department to explore the possibilities of interactivity between the us users and our inseparable smart phones, namely through textiles. By weaving conductive threads into regular fabrics such as Denim, Project Jacquard has enabled cloth to recognise simple gestures that translates into controls; allowing it to become convenient interfaces for our phones and tablets.
“The yarn is created by replacing strands of thread with thin metal wires or conductive polymers. According to the team, their yarn is highly conductive as well as scalable, so it can be used in industrial weaving machines around the world.” Variations of colours, textures and patterns makes this product incredibly versatile.
Whenever we talk about interactivity in class, we are always referring to large scale projects and I think this one is a refreshing take. Due to the micro scale of threads, along with the familiarity of cloth, the end product may be unsurprisingly normal with an invisible interface. As creative technologist João Wilbert says “It’s somehow getting the technology out of the way and making interactions more natural and more seamless.”
In collaboration with Levi’s Commuter Range, Google developed a jacket designed for urban cyclist. So not only is it an interactive garment, it is a practical one that is water and odour-resistant. With a touch of the sleeve, users can access navigation prompts and information on nearby places, change their music, and even answer calls. Such gestures can also be programmed and customised to activate different commands through an app.
See here to check out its functions.
However, the ‘smart-ness’ of the jacket is limited as its sensitivity is only exclusive for touch patches on the cuff of the sleeve. A detachable smart tag as seen in the image will then transmit signals wirelessly to your device. It will also need to be recharge. So despite the jacket being washable once the smart tag is removed, I find the whole spectacle being ruined because the ‘natural’ and ‘seamless’ interaction is not that far from a touch-screen of my smartphone.