In Brief

All in the Wrist: Smart Jacket Houses Touch-Screen Tech

The jean jacket is getting a 21st-century upgrade: Levi's and Google are planning to launch a new "smart" jacket later this year, according to news reports.

The companies' so-called Project Jacquard was first announced in June 2015 as a line of "connected" clothing that would interact with wearers' smartphones, reported Tech Times. The so-called Commuter Jacket was unveiled in May 2016, and Levi's and Google revealed more details about the smart jacket project this weekend at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, Tech Times said. The companies said the jacket will cost $350 and will be available this fall.

The garment can interact with a person's smartphone via Bluetooth technology.  Conductive fabric on the connected jacket's wrist acts as a control panel for the wearer's smartphone. [10 Technologies That Will Transform Your Life]

In a video about Project Jacquard, Ivan Poupyrev, technical program lead at Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group, explained how the jacket works. Conductive threads have replaced some of a textile's original threads, so the woven-in technology can recognize simple touch gestures — similar to what a touch screen does, Poupyrev said.

"The tech is becoming a design element like a zipper, so it can be used in many normal ways," Poupyrev said during the SXSW presentation, reported Ars Technica. "I believe this is going to be the first commercial product which takes the touch interaction of the screen and puts it on an actual product."

Wearers can use the smart jacket to answer incoming calls, change music or get directions, said a promotional video made by Levi's. The Bluetooth device is attached to the garment as a cuff and connects the 15 conductive threads to the wearer's smartphone; batteries for the device are designed to last about two days, reported Engadget.

Other than the conductive fabric and Bluetooth cuff, the jacket looks like a standard denim Levi's piece. It's even washable, Engadget said, as long as the Bluetooth cuff isn't attached.

Original article on Live Science.

Kacey Deamer
Staff Writer
Kacey Deamer is a journalist for Live Science, covering planet earth and innovation. She has previously reported for Mother Jones, the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, Neon Tommy and more. After completing her undergraduate degree in journalism and environmental studies at Ithaca College, Kacey pursued her master's in Specialized Journalism: Climate Change at USC Annenberg. Follow Kacey on Twitter.