Can you imagine apparel with touch screen capabilities? Yeah, neither can we. Actually that is even beyond those science fiction films we grew up with! That is a whole different universe on its own! And yet, it is turning into a reality in this universe, on this earth, by the 2 biggest companies we know: Google met Levi’s. The all-powerful Google wants to really step up its game and what better way to do so than to come up with specially woven fabric that has touch-screen control capabilities by working with the iconic US denim designer Levi Strauss. During one particular conference, Project Jacquard was revealed, with Levi Strauss having been named partner in it. We cannot imagine more exciting news!
A small Google team called advanced technology and projects has been given the task that may be big for the fashion world but isn’t a big enough vision apparently to warrant Google (x) lab working on it. So what exactly is ATAP doing? “We are enabling interactive textiles,” Emre Karagozler said from the team as the smart fabric was revealed in an area set up to resemble cloth coming out of a loom. “We do it by weaving conductive threads into fabric.” That is some serious innovation unto itself! But what on earth would you need touch technology for on your clothing? Apparently it will mean making phone calls or sending messages with simply a brush of fingers on the fabric. WHOA!! The first thing that pops into our minds is actually the fact that this can stop many crimes as you can get a call for help out immediately if you notice suspicious activity. Maybe it’s better than pepper spray actually!
But how will it work? There will be special threads woven into a wide array of fabrics through this project named after the Frenchman who came up with the jacquard fabric himself. The strands may be made to stand out visually or be tucked away secretly, depending on the design of the piece of apparel. Some will have the conductivity in only certain parts, while other garments will have it appear all over. The idea is to make it stretch and to have it be washable of course, without harming the digital aspect to it. This is technology on drugs really, as we find it almost impossible to imagine what this may look like on a dress or denim. It is meant to look like normal fabric but would make our grandparents faint at the idea of what it can do at a mere touch. Standard, industrial looms can be used to create this Project Jacquard, involving any type of fabric so people can keep on wearing what they love. Even your furniture and carpets will be able to have the touch screen interactivity to it, which automatically has us thinking about The Internet of Things. The conductive yarn would be connected to tiny circuits no bigger than jacket buttons and use algorithms to identify a swipe or touch, something that can be sent wirelessly to a smartphone or other device to enable the different actions. This is possibly the coolest tech and fashion news we’ve gotten in a while!
Photo courtesy of Bloomberg