We’re not quite entering a world of Tron where we zip around inside computers on light bikes with cool robot helmets — sorry. But initiatives like Google’s Project Jacquard are creating some interesting new possibilities for wearable tech with their advances in fabrics.
Jacquard yarns combine metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns to create a stronger yarn that holds up to being used on industrial looms. By replacing some of the threads in their textiles with conductive threads, Project Jacquard is developing a conductive jacquard that can be woven into wearable fabrics with touch-sensitive areas or sensor grids incorporated right into the textiles. The Project Jacquard site explains:
“We developed innovative techniques to attach the conductive yarns to connectors and tiny circuits, no larger than the button on a jacket. These miniaturized electronics capture touch interactions, and various gestures can be inferred using machine-learning algorithms.
Captured touch and gesture data is wirelessly transmitted to mobile phones or other devices to control a wide range of functions, connecting the user to online services, apps, or phone features.
LEDs, haptics, and other embedded outputs provide feedback to the user, seamlessly connecting them to the digital world.”