The Commuter Trucker jacket is the first product released by Project Jacquard, the joint effort between Levi’s and Google to create the first mass-produced article of connected clothing. Our November 2017 article, “Google And Levi’s Stitch Up A Connected Jacket,” describes how an innovative textile allows people to control their phone with various gestures. Here are the key steps the Project Jacquard team took to create their smart jacket.
1. Threading The Needle
After the team created the Jacquard thread, they had to figure out what it would look like on the Commuter jacket. First, Google made the threads white so that users would be able to see and activate them. But Levi’s didn’t like the aesthetic. Google then made a version that blended entirely with the fabric. Too invisible. Levi’s suggested a weaving technique called a “missed pick,” which creates a slightly bumpy surface. “We’re deploying a characteristic of the weaving process itself to mark the activated space,” Dillinger says.
I Took Levi’s And Google’s First Smart Jacket Out For A Spin
2. Well Armed
To incorporate the thread on the jacket, the Project Jacquard team needed a place that’s not associated with any common social cues or prone to accidental patting. They landed on the sleeve since it’s both unobtrusive and accessible to bicyclists and other active consumers.
3. Making The Connection
To communicate with a mobile app via Bluetooth, the jacket needs to contain a microprocessor–a piece of hard electronics. To achieve that, Google and Levi’s designed a removable “button,” called a snap tag, equipped with both the processor and a rechargeable battery. It snaps to the cuff like a cuff link and must be removed before the garment is laundered.