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Wearable Tech

Google and Levi's are looking to evolve their smart jacket

The Commuter smart jacket came out only a few weeks ago, but the tech giant and denim company are already looking to innovate.

It's only been about three weeks since the Levi's Commuter smart jacket arrived in stores, but the denim maker is already looking to see what other functionality it can add.

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Google and Levi's are already working on smart jacket 2.0.

Sean Hollister/CNET

The jacket features a cuff with touch-enabled fabric and a Bluetooth connection, presumably making it easier for cyclists to wirelessly access phone controls. Levi's unveiled the product last year as part of a collaboration with Google's Project Jacquard, which weaves touch technology into fabrics.

Speaking at the WSJD tech conference in Laguna Beach, California, on Tuesday, Levi's CEO Chip Bergh said the two companies plan to incorporate more functionality in the jacket, which would involve cutting the need to pull your phone out all the time.

"I've been asked the question before, 'When will you know if this is a success?'" Bergh said. "My answer is, 'I already know it's a success, because we've learned so much about how to innovate by partnering with Google."

At one point in the creation process, he revealed, a jacket sleeve caught on fire. Google loved the situation, exclaiming, "That gives us a problem to solve!"

"We're now embracing failure a lot more readily," Bergh said. "It was two very, very different cultures coming together trying to solve a common problem."  

Bergh also spoke about the perks of Levi's longtime supplier relationship with Amazon. 

"They attract the most eyeballs," he said. "Eyeballs matter when you're online."

Levi's is also trying to lead some of its own innovation in the online space. The company recently launched a chatbot on its site that serves as a virtual stylist. 

First published Oct. 17, 3:03 p.m. PT.
Update, Oct. 20 at 8:03 a.m.: Levi's later clarified that Chip Bergh was referencing the possibility of adding other functionality to the Commuter smart jacket in the future.

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