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Google in blue jeans: Levi project to create interactive clothing

Steve Rogerson
June 9, 2015
 
Google and iconic jean maker Levi Strauss are working together to make interactive clothing. This is part of the Project Jacquard initiative announced at Google’s IO developers conference in San Francisco at the end of last month.
 
The goal of the project is to confront the historical limitations of wearable technologies by decoupling the touch interface from the digital device. Jacquard makes garments interactive – simple gestures such as tapping or swiping send a wireless signal to the wearer’s mobile device and activate functionality, such as silencing phone calls or sending a text message
 
“When it came to choosing a first partner for Project Jacquard, the Levi’s brand was a natural fit,” said Ivan Poupyrev, technical product lead for Google’s Advanced Technology & Projects (ATAP) group. “Levi’s is an iconic brand with deep Bay Area roots – authentic and also highly innovative and fashionable. Levi’s brings to Jacquard their deep knowledge and understanding of apparel, their consumers and what they value.”
 
The Levi Strauss story began with the invention of blue jeans 142 years ago, but that was merely the first chapter. From the debut of the first jeans for women in 1934 to the work that goes on in its Eureka Innovation Lab today, the company is constantly innovating to solve the needs of consumers and give them clothes that make their lives better and easier.
 
For example, in 1937, it introduced a concealed back-pocket rivet in response to consumers who complained their jeans were scratching their furniture and saddles. In the 1940s, it launched 501 jeans with a zipper fly (called the 501Z) for new-to-Levi’s consumers in the eastern USA unaccustomed to the traditional button-fly. In the 1960s, it incorporated nylon into its pants, creating an early version of today’s stretch jeans and introduced the 606 Super Slims, a precursor to today’s skinny jeans.
 
“Levi’s has always stayed true to our iconic products, while continuing to introduce innovations that address the current challenges of modern life,” said Paul Dillinger, Levi’s head of global product innovation, who took the stage at the Google conference. “In our hyper-digital world, people constantly struggle to be physically present in their environment while maintaining a digital connection. The work that Google and Levi’s are embarking upon with Project Jacquard delivers an entirely new value to consumers with apparel that is emotional, aspirational and functional.”