Don't be fooled: This smart jacket is really just a large remote

Your denim future awaits.

Scott Stein

Scott Stein

Editor at Large

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

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Denim jackets are cool again, but would you wear a denim smart jacket?

Levi's is making one, and it'll arrive in stores this fall.

After teasing the Levi's Commuter jacket last year for a spring debut, the jacket was shown off at this year's SXSW festival in Austin. The jacket has a cuff with touch-enabled fabric, along with a Bluetooth connection to your phone. Basically, it's a wearable smart remote.

For bikers, it could mean easier access to music and phone controls. Then again, riding and stroking a cuff like the video below suggests seems like it would be a challenge.

At $350 (about £285 or AU$460), it isn't that expensive as far as jackets go. It's made of a special touch fabric, the result of a partnership with a Google special project called Jacquard.

I looked at Project Jacquard two years ago at Google I/O, when the Levi's partnership was first announced. Jacquard works conductive materials directly into fabric to make them into gesture-aware surfaces, like covering your clothing with touchpad.

Smart remotes in jackets aren't new, by the way. Fourteen years ago, ski jackets from Burton embedded buttons and controls for iPods. Jacquard is unique because of the direct-touch possibilities. But, to be honest, would stroking my cuff be easier than using my watch? And how would this all hold up in the wash?

Watch the video above if you're curious. Google did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

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