Smart Clothes

Smart devices expand again

If in the year 1970 you had of said to someone, with a stern and serious face, ‘Did you know that 50 years from now, we’re going to have these little portable devices that are able to make phone calls, capture photographs and videos, stream television and radio programs, and access just about any bit of information available on this entire planet – and within seconds,’ you would have been scalded, told that you were crazy, that you should stop reading so much sci-fi nonsense. And scalded some more.

Well, the year is 2015. And what would have certainly seemed like little more than science fiction fifty years ago is more than possible; it’s an integral part of everyday modern life.

And we’re not just talking about smartphones, either. As you would well know, we’re talking about tablets and smart watches and smart wristbands and smart glasses – even smart shoes. What you might not know though, is that we’re now starting to talk about smart clothes. More importantly, technology has evolved to a point where these conversations are getting serious.

Google & Levi Team Up

Google has announced that it is teaming up with Levi Strauss to develop smart clothing that interacts with your other smart devices. The goal: Project Jacquard. What it entails: clothes woven with conductive yarns and sensors that are discreetly incorporated into buttons and seams.

Joao Wilbert, a creative technologist at Google, had this to say: ‘The idea that Jacquard is an interface blended into the clothing that we’re wearing has implications in the way you use sensors, products, applications and anything that we do with our technology.’ He also went on to say that this style of connectivity would get ‘technology out of the way’ making the way in which we interact with our devices ‘more natural and more seamless’.

What this means is that your clothing will act as an interface that connects you to your phone, your laptop, and other smart accessories – who knows, it might connect you to the appliances in your house, like your lights or the heater.

Practically, it means that you’d be able to perhaps press a button on your ‘smart jacket’ to answer a call, or swipe a palm across your ‘smart shirt’s’ chest to lower the volume of your music player, or stomp your foot in a certain way to call Aunt Sue or bring up on your smartphone screen how many km’s you’ve walked today.

An Exciting Future

The specifics of how exactly this sort of technology will function remain at this stage a lucent hologram. (Perhaps they might eventually even incorporate holographic technology? Imagine that, a holographic screen shooting out of your front pocket!) What’s more, the question of what sort of apparel will act as ‘smart’ apparel also remains murky water.

It’s possible that different items of clothing will serve different functions; your shoes might track your calories and how many km’s you’ve walked; your shirt might make and answer calls; your jacket might manage all your apps; crossing your legs wearing ‘smart’ jeans might bring up YouTube; or maybe one piece of clothing will serve all purposes. But I’m speculating. Who knows?

What’s exciting, however, is that this technology is being made. And considering the two powerhouses like Google and Levi Strauss partnering to push it forward, as a starting block... it might be here way sooner than any rational person might have once predict.