Four years ago, Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects division unit (ATAP) debuted the Project Jacquard, which was an effort to integrate clothing with technology. Hence they envisioned to produce clothing that was interactive.
This project uses specialized yarn which can be woven with fabrics to make a particular area, like arm, interactive. Google developed this yarn so that it was conducive enough to pass the electrical signals but could also handle the stresses of the industry’s manufacturing. There is right now a $350 Levi’s jacket available for purchase. That jacket, however, lets you do only the basic actions like getting notified about calls, play music, etc.
Ivan Poupyrev, the technical projects lead at Google’s unit demonstrated the new developments in this technology using a presentation in a TED talk!
He swiped on his sleeve to control the presentation; forward to advance the slides and back to go to the previous slide. On the stage, he wore the same Jacquard powered Levi’s Jacket. He went to say that in spite of the Jacquard tag in his jacket, it still remains a jacket but now it does much more. What this means is that you can add deeper levels of interactivity with simple items like clothing without changing their fundamental principle. ATAP built a chip that could be connected to the garment and thus the body with very few electrodes. The conductive yarns take a signal from the fingers when moved over the fabric to the chip which could then be programmed to perform specific actions. Google’s main aim was to move beyond the “Single-use case”.
This Project comes from an effort to minimize fragmentation and thus integrate everything into a single computing platform, thus also making it simpler to interact with technology. It seems that Cloud is the best platform to achieve this.
The biggest concern regarding this is that it would create perhaps the biggest surveillance network for Google. Poupyrev acknowledged this concern and believed that there should be a contract that defines the way that the data from the people could be used. He also suggested that Google can partner with more manufacturing brands and not just Levi’s in the future. It will take Google time to branch out from just one jacket to other products which will truly centralize computing.
He imagines a world where everything is connected and you don’t need a mouse or a keyboard to interact with a keyboard. That seamlessness is at the center of this Project and we can only anticipate great things from it.