Project Jacquard to weave interactivity into textiles

Jun 8, 2015

by Nancy Owano

“Wearables” represents a broad-category of how we will interact with the digital world away from our laptop screens. It embraces arm bands, socks, bracelets, rings and watches. Google is now enhancing that spectrum, having done some serious playtime exploring fabric. Welcome to Project Jacquard, which Google announced at this year’s I/O developer conference in California.

Under Project Jacquard, touch sensor technology is being woven into fabrics. Project Jacquard makes it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into any textile, using standard, industrial looms. Google said that everyday objects such as clothes can be transformed into interactive surfaces. To that end, new conductive yarns have been created in collaboration with industrial partners.

The key ingredient is conductive thread. With it, one can weave a mesh. Brent Rose in Gizmodo said it “looks not unlike the matrix of sensors under your touchscreen.” Rose said that while roaming around the floor of this year’s Google I/O event, he got his hands on Project Jacquard—namely, something “nice n soft,” which is a “fabric that can control your phone.” Scott Stein, a CNET senior editor, also tried it out, saying Thursday that it was an “Interactive fabric” that can be used to control lights, music or more: Stein reported that “I did turn off lights, control music and make shapes dance on a monitor by stroking my fingers over a little square grid of cloth.”

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