Google and Levi’s are once again teaming up to launch a line of tech-infused denim jackets.
The new Levi’s Trucker Jacket is infused with Google’s Jacquard technology. It’s pretty much the same concept we saw in 2017, but with some notable upgrades. The underlying tech behind the jacket still relies on a Bluetooth-enabled “tag” that clips into the jacket’s left cuff, which acts as a touchpad so you can control your music and a handful of other apps by swiping on it.
But the tag itself is now much smaller than the previous version, and there’s very little to make the “smart” part of the jacket look different than the rest of it. That said, you can definitely feel that there’s more inside the sleeve cuff than meets the eye (the tag will trigger vibrations for some kinds of notifications), but it’s still fully washable just like the previous jacket.
And, like the last Jacquard jacket, everything is controlled via the touchpad in the left sleeve cuff. Using the Jacquard app, you can set which apps you want to work with each gesture (there are four: a swipe up, swipe down, double tap, and cover.)
Google also upgraded some of Jacquard’s “abilities,” so you can program the jacket to work with more apps. In addition to being able to control music and answer calls, you can also use gestures to snap a selfie from your phone, trigger Google Assistant, or get an overview of your day based on your calendar and current traffic conditions.
There’s also a new “Always Together” feature that can send you an alert if you become separated from your phone while wearing the jacket.
The jacket itself is now available in several washes in men’s and women’s sizes. There is also a fleece-lined “sherpa” variation, and the price is much closer to the rest of Levi’s line. The standard trucker jacket starts at $198 while the sherpa jacket is $248. That’s pricier than a standard denim jacket, but much more reasonable than the last iteration, which cost a whopping $350.
“Right now there’s a bit of a backlash against screens …”
All that may still sound like a bit of a tough sell. While Google’s Jacquard technology, which relies on a special type of conductive fiber, has received a lot of attention over the years, most consumers probably don’t yet feel the need to have tech literally woven into their clothing.
But Ivan Poupyrev, who leads Jacquard at Google, notes that the current concerns around screen time and phone addiction could make a platform like Jacquard more appealing.
“Right now there’s a bit of a backlash against screens and people being so focused on the phone,” he says. “The vision behind this is ambient computing and the idea of ambient computing is very opposite to the idea of the phone. The idea is that your functionality has multiple touch points, and you can access the same features, but from many different things.”