In typical Google fashion, the search engine company is developing more tech that could spawn new business. This time, Google is teaming up with Levi Strauss to develop smart clothes capable of interacting with mobile devices.
Google and Levi's Project Jacquard seeks to develop interactive clothes, woven with conductive yarns and adorned with sensors discreetly integrated into buttons and seams.
Wearers will interact with the smarty pants much like they would with a touchscreen. A series of taps could turn smart lights on or off, a circle gesture could cue the next track on a smartphone or a downward swipe could hush a ringing phone during a meeting.
"The idea that Jacquard is an interface blended into the clothing that we're wearing has implications in the way you would use sensors, products, applications and anything that we do with our technology," said Joao Wilbert, creative technologist of Google Creative Lab in London.
Such an interface would push "technology out of the way" and it'd make interactions with electronics "more natural and more seamless," he stated.
The conductive yarns are spun from metallic alloys and natural materials, including cotton and polyester. The alloys enable them to pass along impulses to the sensors, which pass along the input to smartphones.
Because of how discreet the conductive yarns and sensors are, users won't even notice the conductive threads and sensor-fitted buttons, according to Nan-Wei Gong, Project Jacquard's research and development lead.
"We're trying to shrink down all of the components [down] to the size of a button and ultimately, this will be something that's so small that we can embed it into the manufacturing process," said Gong.
The technology hasn't made it out of development just yet, but Google on Friday offered demonstrations of the smart threads at Google I/O, its annual developer's conference, and encouraged attendees to start cooking up ways they can build on it.
Google may have plans to leverage the tech for a new product or series of services, but it wouldn't be out of character for the company to stop short of that point and encourage others to carry the torch forward.
During the conference, Google also announced that it is partnering with Levi's to push forward the efforts of Project Jacquard, a name borrowed from a type of weaving.
Check out a trailer of Project Jacquard's efforts: