What if you could turn down the lights just by stroking your shirt? Or skip a song by patting your back pockets? The days of wearable electronics resembling bulky cyborg costumes may be long gone as Google announces its latest idea: Project Jacquard. Google is teaming up with Levi's to weave innovative technology into any textile, transforming clothes into interactive surfaces.
Project Jacquard, which Google presented at its I/O conference last Friday, uses new “conductive yarns” which combine thin, metallic alloys with natural and synthetic materials like cotton and polyester. The resulting conductive yarns are “strong enough to be woven on any industrial loom” and are “indistinguishable” from more commonly used yarns, according to Google.
The threads in the yarn will connect to complimentary computers – as small as a button – that react to touch and various gestures. This data is then wirelessly transmitted to other devices, such as a mobile phone, to control a wide range of functions.
“In terms of what the technology can do, it’s really up to the user and to the designers, and we expect that users can reconfigure it as much as they want to,” says Carsten Schwesig, Design Lead for Project Jacquard, in the video “Welcome to Project Jacquard.”
“Software development and fashion design often don’t exist in the same place, so we’re hoping to make it very simple for each of those parties to collaborate, and we’re hoping to provide both software and hardware knowledge and components to make those collaborations very easy,” he explained.
Google wants to production to be on a large scale, so they’ve teamed up with fashion giant Levi's. The aim of Project Jacquard is not only for this technology to be incorporated into clothes, but for everyday objects such as furniture to also be used as interactive surfaces.
To find out more about Project Jacquard, watch the video below.