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Google, Levi's Partner to Develop "Smart Fabric"

Google has developed a microfiber-woven textile, called Jacquard, that it plans to bring to market with Levi's in 2016.
A preview of Google's new textile, Jacquard. Photo: Google

A preview of Google's new textile, Jacquard. Photo: Google

At Google's annual developer conference on Thursday, the tech giant revealed that its Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) has developed a textile woven with microfibers that have "digital sensing capabilities" — a "smart fabric" that could, conceivably, interact with devices including our smartphones. On Friday, Google announced that it has a partner to help bring the textile to market: Levi's.

Google calls the fabric "Jacquard" — a name that will no doubt cause some confusion, given that jacquard is already a popular fabric ("Google Jacquard or jacquard jacquard?") — and cautions that it's still in early development stages. Jacquard will make its appearance in a not yet determined piece of apparel next year.

The concept isn't entirely new. At the U.S. Open last year, Ralph Lauren unveiled a "Polo Tech" shirt embedded with sensors that allows wearers to view their heart rate, breathing rate, breathing depth, steps and calories burned on their iPhones. What Google is proposing, however, is more seamless; the Polo Tech shirt comes with a "little black box" attached to the wearer's ribcage, which transmits data to iPhones via Bluetooth.

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We'll be speaking with Google and Levi's more about the project next week, but to get a closer preview of Jacquard, watch the video from Google below.