Google and Levi are developing connected clothing with a designer price tag

Wear your tech on your sleeve

Almost two years ago Google and Levi announced that they were planning to take the meaning of wearable tech to a whole new level with a line of connected clothing.

At last year’s Google I/O the first item from what the companies are calling Project Jacquard was revealed to be a connected denim jacket, and during a panel at this year's SXSW it was confirmed that the garment is expected to launch this fall. 

It’s also been revealed that it’s going to have the fairly high-end price tag of $350. So, what do you get for your money?

Fashion-forward

Called the Commuter, the jacket is in the Levi trucker style but uses smart conductive fabric technology rather than standard denim. 

The jacket comes with a removable Bluetooth cuff that connects to your smartphone, allowing you to get directions through haptic feedback, answer phone calls and change your music volume simply by swiping your fingers across the special fabric which acts as a kind of touchscreen. 

Though $350 (£288/ AU $460) does seem like a sizable sum, it’s actually not far off the standard price of a high-end smartwatch and The Commuter has distinct advantages over these watches. 

For one thing, it’s fitted to a timeless item of clothing that’s less obtrusive and less likely to visually date quite as quickly as a smartwatch. 

If you fall into the Venn space of a person likely to buy a denim jacket for $100 to $200 and a smartwatch for upwards of $250, it does make sense to merge the purchases. Judging from the video created for the product which you can watch below, Google and Levi are targeting city cyclists first and foremost.

Using the larger surface area of a jacket is admittedly much more convenient and less distracting than fiddling with a small watch screen or pulling out a smartphone for those using bikes.

That said, the Commuter doesn’t have quite as many features as the latest smartwatches – you won’t find fitness tracking or NFC payments here. However, Google does say its app is still a work in progress and more features, gestures, and third-party support are expected to come in the future. 

The Commuter will be released as a commercial product later this year in both men and women’s sizes. 

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Emma is TechRadar's staff writer covering the latest technology news. She loves nothing more than being unnervingly enthusiastic about gaming, VR, AI, and acronyms.