Google and Levi’s Unveil a Connected Jean Jacket. See How It Works in Action

Touch-sensitive cuff coming to market

Fashion futurists, rejoice! Google and Levi's first smart garment has arrived, and it's a jean jacket that connects to your smartphone.

The tech giant's Project Jacquard, focused on developing touch-sensitive fabrics, has been publicly working with the storied denim brand for a year now. The concept video for their launch product, Levi's Commuter x Jacquard, slated for beta this fall and to hit shelves more widely in 2017, promises variations on largely familiar functions.

Thanks in part to the conductive thread woven into the jacket's cuff, a cyclist can tap his or her wrist to cue an estimated time of arrival from a mobile device to an earpiece—with eyes fixed on the road the whole time. A swipe will change songs on the rider's playlist, Fast Company reports. Two taps will accept an incoming call, three taps will dismiss it—a sequence that might make for some awkward moments, if the technology is at all imperfect, or an operator gets distracted before landing the third hit.

As with most science-fiction sales pitches, the reality is a little more complicated than magical cloth that does one's bidding. The jacket's setup includes a rubber cuff that communicates with the wearer's smartphone (Android only—sorry, Apple fans). It needs to be charged periodically, though purportedly can go for two days without one.

Meanwhile, a behind-the-scenes video on the production process, complete with an awkward fist bump, hints at the idea that something momentous is happening, without being precisely revealing as to how.

But the trucker jacket isn't an endgame so much as a step along the way, at least in the eyes of Project Jacquard's technical lead, Ivan Poupyrov. For him, explains The Verge, the endgame is an approach that excludes phones altogether, in favor of wearable clothing that talks straight to the cloud.

A profile in Wired from last spring offers more insight into how that might look: perhaps T-shirts or running shoes that track athletic activities, or bow-ties that, once knotted, call your Uber—because presumably that's the moment you're about ready to walk out the door. And ultimately, the goal is to integrate Jacquard's special thread into any item of clothing—suits, scarves, even bras, writes Fast Company.

Or for boring traditionalists—or anyone who isn't as psyched about a fantasy world wherein Google's ever-expanding reach on data includes literally clinging to every inch of consumers skin—there's always cotton. 

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