Smartypants? Nope, smart jacket!

Levi's and Google have joined forces on a jacket that will let you answer phone calls with a swipe of your sleeve
smart jacket bike This cyclist may be wearing a smart jacket, but he's not wearing a helmet, which isn't very smart. Just saying. (Levi's/YouTube)


Wearable technology is the future. Right?

Except that it sort of doesn't feel that way just yet. While most of us can imagine a future where our sweatpants can make smoothies and our sneakers can remember to lock our front door and turn on the washing machine before we leave the house... none of us are living that reality right now.

Experts say that a big reason why wearable tech hasn't taken hold yet is because most of the devices out there right now are either too expensive, too ugly and awkward, or both. That's why we're not all wearing pricey Apple Watches or walking to school in our pair of high-tech Google Glass. The technology is already there, but it's not yet worth it.

Levi's and Google think that they might have a new product that can change that: a denim smart jacket for cyclists.

Fantastic fabric

For starters, Levi's and Google have got one thing right that Google Glass did not. Jean jackets are classic cool style. This smart jacket is based on Levi's regular Commuter Trucker jacket. The only change is that the clothing company has woven Google's new Jacquard interactive fabric into key parts of the jacket.

In fact, outside of a small Bluetooth dongle (or connection device) that is attached to one of the jacket's cuffs, the entire jacket looks just like the regular one. And when you remove the dongle, the jacket can even be washed as normal. You can take a look at the fascinating process in this video.

So, okay, it looks cool, but what does it actually do?

No, there's nothing on my jacket, I'm just skipping songs!

smart jacket cuff tap

"Tap-tap. I would like a double cheeseburger, please! What do you mean this isn't that type of jacket?" (Levi's/YouTube)

The interactive part of the jacket is on the cuff. This spot is woven with the Jacquard fabric. Though it's not nearly as sensitive as a touch screen on a phone, the idea is similar. It can respond to at least five different touch commands, including swipe up, swipe down, double tap, a press with the entire palm, and a circular motion.

You can then coordinate it with your phone or device to customize commands. So instead of reaching into your pocket to grab your device while cycling (a major no-no, especially in heavy traffic) you can simply just tap your cuff to get directions, skip a song, answer a phone call, and more.

Will it catch on?

This jacket looks great and is simple enough to use that we can actually see it being used. It might even be genuinely useful if you cycled a lot. At $350 (US) though, it's not exactly cheap. Perhaps the real message is this. Whether or not this jacket catches on, it seems only a matter of time before wearable tech becomes more and more common.

Are you excited for this kind of future to arrive?


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