Tag: smart textiles

Another Spin on the tech wear table for Google – Project Jacquard

Another Spin on the tech wear table for Google – Project Jacquard

Thursday, May 3, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

 

Another Spin on the tech wear table for Google – Project Jacquard

I’ve been recently digging through various reviews on tech wearables and the future of tech clothing, and I found one item in particular that had some interesting facts about it.

This item in particular would be the Jacquard jacket by Google and Levi’s.

The Jacquard jacket is a version of Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket which has Google’s technology woven into the fabric.  This technology mixed with denim apparel allows the wearer to interact with their smartphone via the jacket by performing different touch patterns on the cuff of the jacket.

While this idea as well as many of the pioneering projects of smart wearable technology have the premises of heading into the futuristic crusade of conquest in the smart wearable technology market, the advancement of this technology appears to be evolving extremely slowly as well as not having anything new to offer the tech focused individual.  In many cases there are other devices currently on the market that provide the same functionality for cheaper.

The jacket itself is of very good quality.  It is mostly a top of the line pedigree of the Levi Commuter Trucker Jacket with a conventional “blue collar dark wash”, all-American color and style.  The Commuter Jacket, as its name suggests, is made with bicycle-riding city dwellers in mind.  It’s a nice fit too with a lot of flexibility in the arms and shoulders.  Jacquard comes in men’s and women’s sizes.  However, just like all Levi’s jackets of the past, it fits tight and snugly when closed and tends to be worn best open.  This may pose a problem for cyclists who prefer more loose clothing when riding.  Above all, it really just feels like you’re wearing a very well made, high-end Levi’s jacket.

There is one caveat: the smart cuff. This is where Levi’s has cleverly woven in the conductive threads, but it forms a flat surface that’s more rigid than the rest of the sleeve, something you do notice when moving your arms around. It also sticks out a little, one of only two giveaways that there’s any technology here at all.

The other is the Bluetooth tag that clips into the cuff. This is what transmits the information from the cuff to to your phone, and vice versa, but is also its ugliest feature. This tag needs to be kept charged up, and should you wash the jacket you’ll need to take it off first.

All of Jacquard’s commands happen in the sleeve, specifically the left-hand cuff, which works as a touchpad to communicate with the phone. But to get that working you’ll need to pair Jacquard with your smartphone; it works with iOS and Android, and both get the exact same experience.

Once paired through the Jacquard app you can start assigning your interactions to three different gestures: brush in, brush out and a double tap. Right now this list of commands is quite limited and centered mostly around music and navigation.  You can also answer calls and get notifications via phone speaker or headphones.  There is no sound that comes from the actual jacket itself, only blinking light on the cuff tag which lets you know if you have any notifications or calls.  There’s also a counter for keeping track of, well, whatever the hell you like, and a voice to tell you the time.

Oh, and you can customise the light and haptics too, so the jacket will ping you when select contacts (up to three at a time…so that you can keep you can keep your focus on the road) are trying to get hold of you.

So, what’s the big deal?  That’s the BIG question.  Unfortunately, we are handed an Apollo in the age of the Orion with a failure to launch into new and unknown intergalactic frontiers.  Jacquard just doesn’t do enough yet.  Especially for the asking price of a hefty $350.  Although, nowadays, $350 might not seem too ludicrously expensive in the market of high-end denim jackets.  And as for the dedicated techie, if you can go out and buy Levi’s non-smart equivalent for $200 less, you can start weighing up the value of this added technology.  Otherwise, you can probably buy a really nice jacket and several other items, including other individual accessories that do exactly the same things that you can place ergonomically on your body and bike for cheaper.

So, you may now ask me what did I find interesting about this particular item?

Well, here are the two kickers that drew me in to writing about this particular item in the first place.

#1: The jacket can only be washed 10 times in its entire lifespan.

WOW, did that really just make me crumple up that paycheck and throw it in the trash of mostly useless junk…..or what?  That’s a very good thing to reveal to your potential buyers ahead of time, I may add!  That is definitely the stuff I need to know before I buy.

#2: Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh said he’d never washed his jeans, and believes that’s the best way of maintaining quality.

Really?!?  A CEO of a HUGE name brand in fashion who never washes his clothes?  That’s not only really disgusting, but also not a good way to promote your clothing.  It doesn’t make it excusable that you can only wash the jacket 10 times, so you might as well be a grimy, smelly, scummy person and make no effort to better your appearance.  GROSS!!!!!

Interesting stuff, eh?  Come back again for other interesting facts about smart tech, fashion, and the figures who surround it.

Smart Textiles and Future Wear

Smart Textiles and Future Wear

Thursday, April 14, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Smart Textiles and Future Wear

When we think of clothing, we usually just think of it as something we wear to provide coverage, convey our sense of style and protect us from the environmental elements.  But, the future of clothing as we know it is about to change in a big way, and smart textiles and future wear are paving the way for this change.  So, what exactly are smart textiles?

Smart textiles are fabrics that have been developed with new technologies that provide added value to the wearer.  Smart textiles can be broken into two different categories: Aesthetic and Performance Enhancing.

Aesthetic examples include everything from fabrics that light up to fabrics that can change color.  Some of these fabrics gather energy from the environment by harnessing vibrations, sound, or heat, and reacting to this input.

Then there are performance enhancing smart textiles which will have a huge impact on the athletic, extreme sports, and military industries.  There are fabrics that help regulate body temperature, reduce wind resistance and control muscle vibration – all of which help improve athletic performance.

Other fabrics have been developed for protective clothing to guard against extreme environmental hazards like radiation and the effects of space travel.  The health and beauty industry is also taking advantage of these innovations, which range from drug-releasing medical textiles, to fabric with moisturizer, perfume, and anti-aging properties.

A Canadian lab has tested special fibers that can help make soft, flexible touch screens and batteries woven directly into the fabrics of modern life.  Turning rigid electronic parts into stretchy, smart clothing material has not proven easy.  But early ideas have already hinted at practical uses beyond just wearing glowing “Tron” jumpsuits as fashion accessories. People may swipe a finger across a car’s upholstery to turn down the heat or brush at their coat sleeves to adjust the volume of a connected music player.

The intention is to make the clothing comfortable, and seamlessly blend “hard” gadget functions with “soft” objects while concealing the components of the technology that drives the smart clothing.  New developments in fiber optics have allowed scientists to make new polymer-based smart fibers based on melting the preformed material to pull out a long, thin fiber shape.  Such fibers can conduct electric signals.

The technology of smart clothing may seem imminent, but psychological barriers remain because textile manufacturers are hesitant to work with completely new fibers.  Other challenges also still remain in the creation and development of smart clothing such as: creating the soft textile version of the transistors at the heart of all modern devices.

So the competition is on for the breakthrough design in smart textiles and clothing, and for company’s of the future to create and market extraordinary pieces of smart clothing that act like gadgets but easily fit in with ordinary wardrobes.