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article imageGoogle Project Jacquard: Control devices by touching your clothes

By James Walker     May 30, 2015 in Technology
Google showed off a unique and innovative new product at its I/O developers conference in San Francisco recently. Called Project Jacquard, this new tech lets people control their devices by touching and swiping pieces of interactive fabric in clothes.
Project Jacquard is in development at Google's Advanced Technology and Projects Group, ATAP.
The secretive division is responsible for innovation at Google, creating prototypes of products in new categories like the interactive fabric that the Jacquard team have built.
Anybody who has used a touchpad on a laptop will feel at home, of sorts, with Jacquard. The fabric essentially acts as a touchpad, letting you type and swipe on it to influence actions on your phone.
At I/O, Google was only showing off tiny 1-inch squared versions of Jacquard embedded within a larger piece of fabric. It is teaming up with fashion designers to get Jacquard into actual clothes, raising the possibility of you controlling the phone in your pocket by simply swiping your leg.
Google s Project Jacquard interactive fabric
Google's Project Jacquard interactive fabric
The Next Web
In a demonstration given to PhoneArena, for example, Jacquard was set up to control the media functions on a Nexus 6 smartphone. Tapping the fabric would play or pause the music while swiping can change the volume or move between tracks.
It is easy to see how this could be useful, for example, when running through a park. Instead of reaching for your phone or fumbling with inline controls on earphones to control your music, you could simply tap the interactive fabric on your shirt or trousers.
Although Jacquard was only shown off on a small scale at I/O, The Next Web reports the interactive area can be made into any shape and size. It can be embedded into several types of fabric and the conductive fibres required can be made so thin that silk can be produced.
Although it seems unlikely that you'll be picking up a pair of interactive jeans for a while yet, the project does represent a peek into the future of clothes and technology and wearables.
Connected clothing will almost certainly not be for everyone — and it remains to be seen how durable the fibres will be — but it is a refreshing, completely new and thought-provoking product from Google's Mountain View campus.
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