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Google’s Project Jacquard – The Smart Wardrobe

Project Jacquard

It is indeed amazing how technology has developed in leaps and bounds in just a few years, so much so that we now can think of clothing which is the intersection of clothing and connectivity. Project Jacquard, Google’s new project and partnership with Levi’s was announced at the Internet giant’s I/O conference.

It is said that Google is brewing up something really cool by embedding conductive fibers in clothing itself and also adding miniature computing systems the size of buttons, and they have named it Project Jacquard. The team is working relentlessly with a string of designers, textile mills and trendy brands like Levi’s in order to ensure that their smart clothing is used in a range of products while maintaining the core essence of the equipment and process. This stuff should work, is what is hoped for the most.

No ordinary cloth

The conductive thread being woven into the fabric may just look like any other thread but it isn’t actually. Google’s advanced technology group has come up with this smart fabric which could possibly control your smartphone or the lights in your home one fine day. It is a very smart attempt which involves weaving electronics into the fabric in order to bring about an experience equivalent to that of a touch screen inside the material. The surface of the cloth feels like a patch of corduroy, but on feeling it, it has the ability to control electronics in the vicinity. Demos showed that a 3D image on a nearby display could be manipulated, songs on a phone changed and lights overhead controlled. Google says it’s built around the idea of “connecting without screens.”

Making a call or shuffling music on your smartphone via the sleeve on your coat isn’t something you can do yet. But it seems that if Google’s ATAP division has their way, you will have the ability soon. They came up with this idea for a simple reason and that is if they wove metallic threads into the fabrics we come into contact with during our day we will have the ability to control a piece of tech. Pretty smart!

Applicable to all fibers and all devices

As observed, the thin metal fibers don’t necessarily have to be woven into a flat fabric. It can be spun into ultra-thin fibers too which can be woven into silk. Moreover, Project Jacquard is said to be able to work also with thicker materials like wool, or a textured fiber. Even though Levi’s doesn’t make silk, it will test the fibers in other ways and if Jacquard happens to stand up to the severities put through denim and yet remain receptive to touch, Google may have an actual winner on hand.

Moreover, Project Jacquard is said to be able to work also with thicker materials like wool, or a textured fiber

Similarly to its wide range of fabric applications, the tech Project Jacquard fabric links to0, may come in the form of a TV, or a phone, or your car, or tablet or even your desktop computer. Just as Project Jacquard can be applied into any material, it can similarly communicate with any kind of device. Another very interesting fact is that not only is it made with the same manufacturing process as existing fabrics, the touch capacitive portion of the fabric can actually be manifested in any shape or size.

Can you spot your role?

So what will these threads and smart materials be used for? It’s up to the designers — and maybe you. As with fashion itself, the possibilities are endless. And although it sounds a bit redundant when spoken in the same breath as the smartphone, but there will always be those of us, who’d love to pause a track just by tapping on the shirt or by silencing our phones in our pockets by swiping a coat sleeve. It could definitely save you from raised glares at that meeting.

And you never know. Smartwatches may not be for everyone but clothing is. Project Jacquard might be, too.

Keval Padia
Keval Padia is the founder & CEO of Nimblechapps, a fast-growing mobile game development company. The current innovation and updates of the field lures him to express his views and thoughts on certain topics.