JACKET, LEVI’S® COMMUTER™ TRUCKER JACKET WITH JACQUARD™ BY GOOGLE, 2017
For decades, the intersection of technology and weaving has fascinated me. Since its beginning, I’ve been intrigued by the Project Jacquard initiative spearheaded by Dr. Ivan Poupyrev, Director of Engineering at Google.
Upon commercial introduction of the Levi’s Commuter Jacket, the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum acquired one jacket with Jacquard by Google technology for its permanent collection on September 23, 2017.
And just like that, design history has been made.
Technology and textiles have always been uniquely connected. Weaving is one of the earliest forms of ‘programming’ as we know it using 1’s and 0’s as the rising and sinking yarns in a pattern.
Project Jacquard by Google ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) was launched in 2015. Historically, the name Jacquard references the complex weaving and constructions made on the loom mechanism invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752-1834). The term “Jacquard” was not specific or limited to any particular loom, but refers to the added control mechanism that automates the patterning of textiles.
But, in this day and age, words are given new meaning by associating them with new context. Project Jacquard pays homage to Jacquard and his invention by referencing his name, but this project is not about complex weaving patterns, but rather seeks to integrate conductive yarns into fabric constructions and patterning. We will be able to put electronic devices on our bodies and have the ability to interact with them.
I inquired and these conductive yarns are not readily available. Levi Strauss is the first official partner with Project Jacquard to experiment with weaving electronics into clothing. This brings the next level of sophistication to classic denim; the eternally young utilitarian fabric.
This technology can be used for military applications for communication and medical technologies to monitor vital signs. In what other ways can this fabric technology improve the way we live?
Five Phases of Project Jacquard
Spinning Conductive Yarns
Weaving Interactive Textiles
Producing at Scale
Making Connected Clothing
“Project Jacquard is a new system for weaving technology into fabric, transforming everyday objects, like clothes, into interactive surfaces. Project Jacquard will allow designers and developers to build connected, touch-sensitive textiles into their own products. This is just the beginning, and we’re very excited to see what people will do with it.” Ivan Poupyrev, Project Jacquard Founder, Google ATAP