Google and Levi’s to Make “Wearable” Clothing
When we think about wearable technology, many of us tend to think of watches or headsets with displays that we can interact with. Wearables are becoming smaller and smaller though; after all, the aim of wearable to tech is to make devices less intrusive. We are succeeding to a degree, however the latest project from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) department looks set to change how we conceive wearables.
Google Get Shirty
Project Jacquard is wearable technology that is literally woven into the fabrics of garments. Conductive threads (which work in the same way as a touch screen does) replace some of the fabric threads in textiles and are woven together to form part of the garment. These conductive threads can pick up touch and even hover commands which are relayed to a small component tucked away in the clothing.
Once the developers can reduce the size of the component, say to the size of a button, it may be able to form part of the design itself. The touch commands that the fabric picks up could then be sent to a separate device like a phone, allowing you to dial or answer by simply touching or swiping part of your clothing.
Google announced the technology by also revealing their first partner, clothing brand giants Levi’s. One area that other wearables have failed in is the fashion stakes. You only have to look at Google Glass as evidence that the consumer market don’t just want something that works, they want something that looks good too. Perhaps Google have learned from Glass’s failure in the consumer realm and are trying to stay fashion focused. Teaming up with Levi’s is a big indicator that they have recognised this. The suggestion is that Google will look to partner with more designers as the technology is refined, increasing their market, producing the technology in a variety of different styles and brands.
The video below explains how Project Jacquard works, the scope for the future and how wearable technology will integrate with fashion…
The 3Squared SmartVest
3Squared have been involved in lots of wearables projects, especially in the rail and construction industries. While we haven’t yet worked on woven conductive textiles, we have developed the SmartVest. This high visibility vest interacts with iBeacons to improve safety on construction sites and railways.
Health and Safety is one of the most critical business processes for infrastructure organisations and 3Squared was quick to realise an opportunity for a ‘SmartVest’ that could assist workers by notifying them of potential hazards. The SmartVest expands on the current safety features of the high visibility vest by incorporating low energy, affordable Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) that respond to potential dangers. The platform integrates with established live data feeds to provide automated visual alerts for workers to inform them of a train approaching a working area, or hazardous overhead power cables. Different coloured lights give off visual alerts for individuals and groups of workers to help them identify a possible hazard quickly and effectively.