Presented at the Google I/O 2015, Project Jacquard is a project born in the ATAP Division (Advanced Technology and Products), the father of Project Ara and Project Tango, whose purpose is to create smart clothing that can interface with our devices via Bluetooth.
The project has found a first partner in Levi’s who collaborated on a trucker jacket, a vest with smart wristband that can interpret various gesture and turn them into commands for our smartphones.
The Levi’s Trucker Jacket doesn’t require special attention execpt the removal of the Bluetooth adapter before washing it and will be available from spring 2017.
But Google’s initial idea was not to integrate his technology in clothing via a bluetooth adapter, but slip directly into the fabric textures.
The Project Jacquard should be able to interact through touch and gesture with smart fabric that does not require special processing machinery but standard industrial chassis.
Google realized new conductive yarns which combine thin metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns such as cotton, polyester, or silk, making the yarn strong enough to be woven on any industrial machinery.
The possibility to work these new yarns easily allows to make interactive specific areas, or allows the creation of large interactive surfaces.
Complementary components have been designed to be as discreet as possible: Google developed innovative techniques to connect the conductive yarns to connectors in circuits no larger than a button. Through learning algorithms these components will interpret the gesture and communicate wirelessly with the smartphone.
In these days we come back to talk about Project Jacquard and its possible future developments, in fact Google has a patent pending on a new gesture-based control system designed to be operating on intelligent clothing.
By these patents it’s possible to see that the built-in bluetooth dongle used in the Levi’s jacket will cease to be used in favor of interactions that take place directly by touching the fabric.
Everyday items, such as clothes and bags, can then be transformed into real interactive surfaces.
“If you look at the history of apparel you can see how technology comes in and adds new functionality, like nylon and zippers. It’s very natural at this point that new technology becomes another ingredient in building apparel and fashion of the future. Once appetite is there in the public for smart textiles, it becomes almost like a right, people will expect it all the time and everywhere.” (Ivan Poupyrev, technical lead program at Google’s ATAP)