Use maps while cycling? This smart jacket is for you

Just touching your jacket sleeve while biking around the city is any day safer than operating a touchscreen phone with one hand

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Two years ago, Google and Levi Strauss decided that the urban cyclist deserves better than balancing their bike with one hand and juggling their phone with the other, trying to figure out their next turn on a navigation app. And thus was born Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard by Google – a denim attire which is as fashionable as it is high-tech. This week, the jacket finally went on sale with a price tag of $350. Here’s all you need to know…

The technology comes from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group in the form of gesture-sensitive threads woven inside the jacket’s cuff. A flexible snap tag embedded with tiny electronics connects your iOS or Android phone wirelessly to the jacket. With light haptic feedbacks, the snap tag – which needs to be charged via USB every two weeks – conveys incoming information to the user, like a phone call from the boss!

The wearer, meanwhile, only needs to swipe or tap on the cuff to perform tasks like play or pause music, get commuting directions or reading incoming SMS. You can customize the way you control the jacket by assigning or reassigning different abilities to the gestures, and deciding when you want the LED or the haptics to notify you. You will, of course, need to wear your earphones. But just touching your jacket sleeve while biking around the city is any day safer than operating a touchscreen phone.

The jacket can be washed and dried up to 10 times in a machine – which isn’t too bad considering a denim jacket doesn’t need to be cleaned more than twice a year. So, before the jacquard fabric gets damaged from the 11th wash, the technology would anyway have become obsolete.

Now, let’s talk about the cost. If the $350 prices tag seems bit much, it’s because Levi’s standard commuter jackers usually retail around $150. But, the company’s designer denims easily go up to $400 – sans any technology woven into them. And early users of the jacket have reported being quite satisfied with the connected jacket’s form and fit. So, if you cycle a lot or are just generally tech-savvy, give this jacket a go. We would love to hear about your experience!

Ishveena is a geospatial enthusiast and a veteran of creating and managing compelling digital content for organizations and individuals. When she is not making magic at her desk, you are likely to find her exploring nature, eating her way through life, or binge-watching funny animal videos.