Google is no stranger to merging fashion with technology. In 2015 the tech giant introduced Project Jacquard. It was an innovation that centred around a smart fabric initiative that showcased gesture and tap-connected wearables without screens. Fast forward to 2019, and there is a new Jacquard product in town- a Yves Saint Laurent smart backpack.
Introducing The Nondescript Wearable Device
Yes, it is true, Google’s Jacquard 2.0 has made a $995 luxury backpack intelligent. The nondescript wearable tag is capable of gestures and taps that cue up Google Assistant on the go. The exciting thing is that the smaller and durable chip is quite flexible and can be easily embedded into many fashion products like shoes. Which leads to the question of whether you can imagine a future where Jacquard-enabled clothing is part of your wardrobe?
Described by CNET as “an experimental technology,” the tag is being driven by Advanced Technology and Projects Director and Technical Project Lead Ivan Poupyrev and Dan Giles who is PM for Jacquard by Google. They told CNET that the fashion world will take to the idea of attaching the Jacquard Tag and sensors onto clothes.
After reading a few articles about this innovation I have do like how Google has made a new purpose-built Jacquard app that allows all future products to not only connect but for the wearer to also custom-assign gestures to new features. Google confirmed that it could launch discrete Google Assistant requests and tag them to one of the gestures.
A concern have is that Jacquard has not evolved passed only allowing one action at a time to be mapped to each gesture. This is a limit that might curb the excitement for some early adopters. It is a problem that Google isn’t worried about right now. Poupyrev told CNET: “…it’s like the early days of iOS or Android.”
Google’s New Direction
I have heard many times that voice is the future. It is a direction that Poupyrev believes could lead to nonverbal cues of interaction between people can be from 50-90% of everything being communicated. He said in an interview with CNET, “Bringing these nonverbal cues into the conversation with technology is a key opportunity and a huge challenge at the same time.”
Besides AI, Google has also been addressing the importance of sustainability. Poupyrev believes that Jacquard could somehow be applied to sustainable clothing care. “Brands talk about sustainability, more sustainable practices, how to use clothing … maybe wash it less, use less water. These are things we’re thinking about, too,” he said.
Looking to solve problems, some fashion brands champion the fact that Google has found a way to build interfaces into textiles and wearables. Google’s goal is to create one sensor that can power them all! “It’s in the realm of possibilities, we’re thinking about it all the time,” says Poupyrev. Adding, “I don’t know how much speculation I’m allowed.”
I guess what Google is trying to tell us is that in the not too distant future, we should expect Jacquard products to make connected fashion a reality and maybe also add some wearable tech to interior design. But for now, we have the everyday designer bag. Not exactly affordable for the masses, there have been whispers that affordable fashion items with the Jacquard Tag will become available shortly. Well, one can only hope, because I definitely do not have $995.00 to spare.