Project Jacquard: Weaving + Technology = Smart

“Technology has to make existing things better.” It makes them better by connecting them to your digital life and adds new usefulness and new functionality while remaining the same original purpose, not changing it.This jacket I am wearing can control my mobile phone and presentation, but it still remains a jacket. That means that once we start making all things interactive and connected, every thing would have its own set of actuators, displays and sensors specific for those things. A pair of running shoes does not need to have a touch sensor.Why would it have one? If you have a sensor, it should measure your running performance or knee impact, while remaining a great pair of shoes.”

Makers of things will have to start thinking what kind of digital functionality they have to offer to their consumers. They will have to become service providers, or they may become irrelevant. 


[Update 11/30/2017) I spotted “Project Jacquard” as it was called during product development in the pages of Vogue October 2017. Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard by Google is cited as smart clothing and fits among an existing market of wearable tech. This trend in the fitness-focused, or “athleisure” market continues to have significant advancements.

Excerpt from Digital Trends

It’s a dream shared by many, including the founder of Google Project Jacquard, Ivan Poupyrev. During Google I/O 2015, Poupyrev showed off a new way to weave touch panels to into conventional fabrics, using old-fashioned textile manufacturing processes. Google’s yarn has a conductive metal core that’s mixed with conventional fibers and can be dyed any color. Google is working with Levi’s and other companies to make its dream of high-tech clothing come true using traditional techniques.

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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.

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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?

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Click here to watch a video about Project Jacquard

Five Phases of Project Jacquard

Spinning Conductive Yarns
Weaving Interactive Textiles
Embedding Electronics
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



Click here to watch a video from the LevisxGoogle project team.

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