The wait for Google’s connected Levi’s jacket is almost over.
Nearly two years after first teasing Project Jacquard, the company’s experiment to weave technology into clothing, the first garment to actually use the tech is ready to launch.
The Levi’s Commuter Trucker jacket, in both men’s and women’s sizes, will go on sale this fall for about $350, Google announced during SXSW 2017.
As we saw at Google I/O last year, the jacket’s left sleeve is a capacitive touchpad you control by tapping or swiping across it. An accompanying smartphone app allows you to set “abilities” so a double tap could start your music, for example, while a swipe up could tell you the time.
The touchpad is powered by a small rechargeable “tag” that clips onto the inside of sleeve. The battery on the tag will last about two days, according to Ivan Poupyrev, project lead for Project Jacquard at Google, though he says he would like to eventually increase the battery life to several days.
The backbone of Jacquard is a special fabric that’s woven with a conductive yarn. Poupyrev notes the yarn necessary for Jacquard can be woven into nearly any type of fabric and that the longterm goal is to have an entire “ecosystem” of Jacquard-enabled clothing.
On the Commuter Trucker Jacket, you can just barely make out the difference in material on the left sleeve, though Poupyrev says clothing makers can opt to make the tech completely invisible if they wish.
Google is still working out how third-party developers will come onto the platform, so for now the jacket is mainly used to control core features of your smartphone, like starting or stopping music, answering the phone or reading text messages, as well as Google services like Maps and Calendar. This also means that, yes, the jacket won’t work as well with iPhones as it does with Android since outside developers can’t access core features in the same way.
The jacket marks the first project from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group to become a commercially available product (the modular smartphone initiative Project Ara was put on an indefinite hiatus last year, following multiple delays.)
“It was a long road but what’s really impressive, is the entire journey, we stayed true to our vision and what we wanted to achieve,” Poupyrev says. “This jacket is going to be sold as a piece of apparel, that was always the vision from the very beginning.”