Google, Levi’s Launch The Commuter Trucker Jacket Featuring Jacquard Technology
What are Google thinking? In conjunction With Levi’s, the company has just started selling the Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard technology. Yes, that’s the official name, and yes it’s available for $350 from a small number of stores. The new jacket is a smart wearable piece of clothing. The Commuter Trucker Jacket has clever touch-sensitive threads woven into the left sleeve, which are linked to a control mechanism. The jacket is washable, but not the control unit. The jacket is controlled by tapping and swiping on the sleeve, and can notify the wearer of incoming notifications by a light or vibration. It’s taken Google and Levi’s two years to perfect Jacquard (the name given to the fabric) and this is the first product using the technology. Still, who’s going to buy it?
Google’s blog on the subject opens with this line:
Whether you’re cycling to work or juggling a cup of coffee, it’s often difficult to pull out your phone, unlock it and answer an incoming call, read a text or skip a music track.
Who wrote this? If my ‘phone is ringing and I am cycling to work, I’m not going to answer it if it means pulling my ‘phone out and putting it up against my ear. If I were to answer it, I wouldn’t need to unlock the handset, but can swipe away. Or I can use a headset and click a button. Or a smart ring, or other wearable. What’s the difference between tapping a button on a headset, swiping on an Android Wear smartwatch, or tapping on my wrist?
Second, I don’t juggle my coffee for anything this side of Sandy.
I am all for new technologies, and I like the idea of smart clothing, but I’m more taken by auto-tightening laces, or size-adjusting clothing, rather than the ability to tap the sleeve. Jacquard is technically clever as it’s wrinkle, wash and wear-proof, but from a technical perspective the control unit isn’t washable and must still be recharged. It’s not so much different to tapping a smartwatch but it doesn’t support the Google Assistant. Still, it will keep me warmer than a Moto 360, at least.