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Wearable Tech

​Google, fabrics, and fashion? A peek at Project Jacquard

Interactive fabric that can be used to control lights, music or more: what exactly does it do, and why? I tried out Google's mysterious side project.

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What, exactly, was a piece of interactive fabric doing at Google's I/O developers conference? Good question. I don't have a clear answer yet, but 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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Scott Stein/CNET

Jacquard is another brainchild of ATAP, Google's Advanced Technology and Projects Group, a secret division that came up with both Project Tango and the modular Project Ara phone. Project Jacquard is part of what could be this year's big intriguing new announcement. What I found was a table with three or four interactive stations let people play with the cloth. Basically, it's a like a capacitive touchpad, made of fabric.

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Part of Project Jacquard's booth hints at the ideas involved. Scott Stein/CNET

But, again, why? Project Jacquard's team who were on the show floor encouraged me to attend tomorrow's session at the conference, where more will be unveiled. The website doesn't reveal much yet. Jacquard seems like a way to continue exploring connected clothing, fabrics and even possibly new materials for electronics. Maybe my shirt could control my home. Or a comfy pillow could browse my tweets.

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Touch the fabric, make the graphics dance. Scott Stein/CNET

Google's all about mysterious surprises and experiments. Jacquard looks like this year's wild card.