A standard Levi’s trucker jacket costs $148, a “smart” trucker jacket from Google and Levi will run you $350. What’s that $200 price bump get you?
After more than two years of testing, Jacquard, the company’s project to embed technology into clothes, is ready to launch. The Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard by Google (yes, that’s actually what it’s called), is now on sale in select stores.
And while it’s easy to roll your eyes at the idea of a $350 jacket that comes with its own app, Jacquard is more than a gimmick. After a few days of wearing Levi’s Jacquard jacket, I’m more convinced than ever that the future of wearable tech lies not in tiny screens on our wrists, but in the stuff we’re already wearing. […]
I’ll be the first to admit that there are a lot of cool possibilities in smart clothing ranging from fitness to military and police use, but this isn’t that.
Google and Levi’s ‘Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard’ does include some touch sensors in the the sleeve cuff, but more of the technology in the gadget comes from something called the “tag,” a device about the size of an Apple remote which slides into a holster in the underside of the sleeve. Thus, the jacket is less a smart jacket and more a jacket with a special sleeve to hold a smart device.
As for that device. It’s not a fitness tracker, it doesn’t have a display of any type. It’s basically a Bluetooth remote for your phone.
Here’s a list of things the “tag” can do:
- Play or pause your music, skip to the next track, or ask what song is playing.
- Get your next direction, ETA, or the current time.
- Receive updates on incoming call or texts with a subtle LED light and a vibration on your sleeve, and have the text message read to you.
So, to get anything out of this jacket you not only need a phone with you, but you need headphones in as well. It’s a remote control for your audio playback and allows you to talk to Google Assistant by playing with your jacket cuff. Last time I checked my headphones already do all of these things with the little in-line clicker.
I’m not a huge smartwatch fan, but for the $200 premium I’d take a look at an Apple Watch series 1 ($249) before I offloaded $350 for a smart-jacket which offers just a few of the watches plethora of features, plus it includes a display. If you’ve already got a jacket, $350 will net you a brand new series 3 watch with built in GPS. Plus a smartwatch is something you can wear year round, not sure about you but a jean jacket only gets me a few months of wear here in Denver and fits little of my wardrobe to begin with.
Hell, if you’re not a smartwatch person, you can get most all of these features with a set of AirPods. A jacket with a Bluetooth remote built into the sleeve is not the future. If it were, I’d be submitting my Roku controlling sweat pants to Kickstarter this afternoon.