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Meet Project Jacquard, Google's Plan To Turn Your Clothes Into A Touch Screen

One of Frog's big predictions was that 2015 would be the year that textiles got techy. Maybe it heard rumblings of Project Jacquard, Google's new venture to weave touch controls into textiles right on the loom.

Project Jacquard is the latest gambit from Ivan Poupyrev, the legendary interaction designer who Google, by way of Motorola, poached from Disney Research in 2013. Designed within Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP, which Google described on stage at I/O last week as their "small, scrappy group of pirates working on wicked cool shit"), Project Jacquard gives textile manufacturers the ability to impregnate their cloth with a new kind of braided conductive thread. Unlike regular conductive thread, like the kind used in various touch-screen-enabled gloves, this thread comes in any color, and can be used in any existing industrial loom or machine. When coupled with a small Bluetooth controller running on a standard watch battery kept in a dedicated pocket, it will give any garment or piece of cloth the ability to pair with other gadgets and operate like a touch screen.

Striding on stage at Google I/O wearing a linen jacket threaded with touch-capacitive sensors, Poupyrev pointed out that while smart garments are nothing new, they're still fringe novelties. Why? Because they because they just aren't realistic to mass-produce at scale.

"The clothing industry makes 19 billion garments per year," observes Poupyrev. "Compare that to...

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