The technology used by Google’s Wearable Technology group, Project Jacquard, is similar to conductive thread, but instead of being woven into clothes, it is instead woven into the fabric itself. The fabric is then connected to an Android phone to give users visual or haptic feedback. Haptic feedback is far more effective than visual feedback, because it gets people’s attention. Future control methodologies may include voice and spatial gesture controls or even gaze.
The first step in this process is Project Jacquard, Google’s smart clothing internal startup. Jacquard is a French word that describes the intricate patterns found on fabric. It also refers to the control mechanisms in an old-fashioned fabric weaving machine. The goal of the project is to make computing ubiquitous and easy to use, turning everyday objects like clothes into intuitive interfaces. The goal is to make computing easier, more accessible, and more natural to use.
In addition to building its own smart fabric, Google is also building a full-scale digital platform for connected apparel. The company is developing ultra-thin conductive metal alloys that can be woven into fabric and integrate with sensors. Samsung has also shown connected tech garments, including the Body Compass workout suit with hidden sensors and gesture-controlled app-connected cufflinks. The new platform will enable companies to integrate connectivity and digital experiences directly into their products.