Google’s top-secret Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) division, where the search giant works on its craziest ideas away from the public eye, has a whole pavilion here at Google I/O, the company’s biggest event of the year.
Among the craziest was Project Jacquard, a project that weaves electronics into fabric. In the demo at I/O, you could control the volume on a phone and make music pause or play just by tapping or swiping on a swath of totally normal fabric next to it.
Since it’s a Google ATAP project, there’s a chance it will never actually make it into a real product. But it’s very cool. And it works!
It could open the door for all kinds of new, connected clothing. Imagine controlling your phone by swiping your jeans.
Take a look:
The controls are in the piece of fabric with the slightly different texture, as you can see in this picture. Other than that, the cloth feels no different — it’s just fibre with controls woven in.
Project Jacquard will be officially announced tomorrow, according to the project’s website.
After that, we’ll have more details. It’s very likely named after Joseph Marie Jacquard, the 18th-century French weaver who came up with the idea for a programmable loom.
It’s also worth noting that tons of companies are trying to find ways to make everyday clothing “smart.” Ralph Lauren showcased a shirt last year with sensors woven into its fabric that could provide information about your workout. But there aren’t many products like this that you can actually buy today — and the ones you can purchase usually focus on health and fitness tracking and are aimed at athletes.