Remember Jacquard – the smart jacket collaboration between Google and Levi? No, probably not. Since going on sale with pretty obvious limitations back in 2017 (it only had a limited number of washes for one thing), things have been pretty quiet on the smart fabric front. Until now.
Last week, Yves Saint Laurent teased a backpack made with Google on its Instagram page, but it looks like it was only the first of a few products set to benefit from Jacquard 2.0.
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9to5Google reports that the new Jacquard Tag is considerably smaller than the original, “going from what was previously a very long thumb drive, it’s now slightly larger than an SD card.” Obviously when you’re talking about something designed to be embedded in clothes, size is all important, so that’s a big improvement right off the bat. It’ll also charge via microUSB or contact pins rather than the original’s full-size USB port.
Perhaps more importantly, the companion app is getting a bunch of improvements to make Jacquard less of an expensive novelty curiosity, and closer to something that’s genuinely useful.
First up, you can create your own Jacquard ability by setting any Google Assistant command to trigger via a gesture on the fabric. That’s not the only Google Assistant functionality, as you can also get a personalised briefing with news, traffic, weather and so on.
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Finally, you can trigger your phone’s camera via a gesture, which should allow for more flexible group selfie shots. It apparently includes a visual and haptic countdown timer before a photo is taken, so you can ensure you’re not blinking.
As with the original smart jacket, these actions (along with the original ones for controlling music and so on) can be triggered by brushing, tapping or covering the fabric.
For now, it’s only officially available in the aforementioned Saint Laurent backpack, though it’s currently listed as out of stock on the official website. The good news is that you’ve saved £685.
Even better news: Google has told CNET that more Jacquard products are on the way, and not all of them will be “luxury priced”. Watch this space.
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