It was recently discovered that your clothes could one day be turned into a touch screen. A team of digital and textile experts at Google called the Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group has develop a ‘smart fabric’ that they call Jacquard which is said to be a conductive woven yarn that is able to interact with digital devices.
With no surprise in saying that the project will not be a tiny initiative, the developers will be concentrating on getting the material to look and feel like any traditional garment, creating it with a suitable scale and allowing the fabric to be manufactured with existing processes. Gathering as much experts as possible, Google is partnering with designers, textile mills and iconic brands like Levi’s.
Interactivity with the Jacquard is possible because of two things: it can be combined with natural and synthetic yarns such as cotton, polyester and silk to make itself indistinguishable and the woven material is embedded with micro devices that enable data communication. The material can then be programmed to recognize simple gestures and the tiny circuits or switches implanted can allow interaction with external devices. For example, you could make a gesture to the fabric surface to scroll through your phone’s contact list , and then tap a shirt-button-turned-micro-device to initiate a phone call.
The Jacquard project was unveiled by Google at their annual developer conference. Like the many other open source ventures that has been led by Google, the tech giants shared that “developers will be able to connect existing apps and services to Jacquard-enabled clothes and create new features specifically for the platform.” Developers, fashion designers and users were also invited to sign up for newsletters to be kept up-to-date on how to get involved.
While the official details of what Google and Levi’s are co-developing has not been released, it is obvious that their partnership is one of the centerpieces of their vision decoupling touch interfaces from the digital device. Google’s ATAP also said that their aim is to have Jacquard able to be woven on any industrial loom. The Levi’s brand will help with knowledge of iconic fashion, and durable, easy-to-wear clothing.