21/07/2015 — auf Deutsch lesen

The era of “Jeans 4.0”

Much technical progress has already been made – to seeing on youtube Photo: Google

Much technical progress has already been made – to seeing on youtube Photo: Google


Touchscreens are out – using jeans to operate digital devices is the future! A collaboration agreement announced on 29 May 2015 between Google Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co looks set to make this vision a reality. Lary Page and Sergey Brin undoubtedly rank among the pioneers of the internet age. With their search engine and its expansions, the entrepreneurs have organised internet information and rendered it usable in real time. Now the Americans are setting out to digitalise the textiles and clothing industry. The big aim of “Project Jacquard” is to control mobile devices through fabric surfaces.

Levi has emerged as Google’s first partner in this undertaking. The branded jeans maker said its involvement in the project stemmed from the innovative spirit that connects both companies, permanently altering the way people live. Developed during the Gold Rush, jeans led to lifestyle changes in the same way that Google’s search engine technology has transformed people’s lives. Initiated by Google, “Project Jacquard” is expected to trigger the next major revolution in the realm of Wearable Technologies. The idea is to make clothing interactive; a brush of the fabric will be enough to transmit a signal to the smartphone/device, switching it to silent or activating other functionalities.

To succeed in this project, Google intends to split the principle of the“mobile device” into two components, that is, the“touch-sensitive interface” and the digital device. By separating the two, the user interface can be transferred to the textile. Judging by the video on YouTube ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=qObSFfdfe7I), much technical progress has already been made. The invention is based on electrically conductive fibres that are covered with natural fibre materials at a Japanese spinning mill. These special twisted yarns are woven into the textile in such a way that floats are created on the back. They are used to connect the electrically conductive threads to the electronic components: they are soldered on by hand and then sealed so that the smart textile can be washed. During the making-up process, the touch-sensitive interface is positioned in line with the designer’s specifications.

By involving itself in “Jeans 4.0”, Levi Strauss & Co is responding to the global trend towards hyper-digitalisation in which people want the best of both worlds: a life in the here and now and a permanent connection to the virtual world of data. “Project Jacquard” is designed to pave the way into this brave new world. According to Paul Dillinger, Head of Global Product Innovation, the cooperation between Google and Levi Strauss will give rise to emotional, aspirational and functional clothing with completely new functionalities. At this moment in time, it appears more than likely that “Project Jacquard” will succeed. After all, Google Inc.’s development budget probably far exceeds that of the research budget set aside for Wearable Electronics in Europe.

[Sabine Anton-Katzenbach]