The new Levi's Trucker Jacket may contain some seriously impressive tech, but it's not supposed to revolutionise our lives, according to the brains behind the project.
"We didn't want to create an object that is so important in our day-to-day lives that we become totally disabled when we lose it," says Paul Dillinger, VP Global Product Innovation, Levi Strauss & Co.
"We'd rather participate in a tech revolution that lets everything in our lives do a little something, so that no one thing has to do everything."
At a time when tech firms around the world are clamouring to create objects – from watches to fridges – that perform a multitude of tasks, Dillinger's commitment to simplicity is refreshing.
And his product is all the better for it. The Levi's Trucker Jacket with Jacquard by Google is a breeze to operate and packs intuitive features that you'll actually use.
The cuff stuff
Put simply, the new Levi's Trucker Jacket features technology seamlessly woven into the left cuff that allows you to control your smartphone with a range of simple hand gestures.
By swiping or tapping the cuff with your right hand, it's possible to access navigation, ride share apps, weather and traffic reports, messaging, music and more.
And your phone can send messages back to the cuff, making it vibrate when you need to know something (for example, if you've left your phone behind).
The jacket communicates with your smartphone via a small Bluetooth dongle, referred to as a Jacquard tag, that slides into a pouch in the cuff.
Rather than pre-assigning functions to different movements on the cuff, Levi's allows the wearer to customise the jacket using the Jacquard by Google app. For example, if you listen to a lot of music, you can swipe up or down on the jacket to control volume.
"Or let's say I've called a ride-share," says Dillinger. "The cuff can vibrate to let me know when it's there and then if I swipe up it will announce the name of the driver and the make of the car."
Dillinger says the idea is to select the phone functions that you use most commonly and assign them to the jacket so you don't have to access your phone as frequently.
"You can keep your phone in your pocket and your eyes on the world around you, staying connected without being distracted," he says.
Redefining a classic
One great advantage of the new Levi's Trucker Jacket is that it looks like a regular item of clothing. In fact, aside from the cuff, its construction is exactly the same as previous non-tech iterations of the Trucker Jacket, one of the brand's best-loved styles.
"What I love about this project is that we haven't sacrificed any Levi's authenticity: we've simply upgraded the capabilities of the garment," says Dillinger.
"It's still a jean jacket – you can throw it in the washing machine, you can throw it in the dryer if you must. On the off-chance that you've forgotten to charge your Jacquard tag, you can still wear it, because it's just a great blue-denim jean jacket."
Dillinger reckons the power of the Levi's brand will help the new Trucker Jacket succeed where other wearable tech has failed. "The back of my sock draw is full of great new connected-object ideas that didn't really prove themselves as things that I want in my life," he says. "But I'll always want a jean jacket, and I'll always want my phone."
More wearable tech to covet
Saint Laurent Cit-e backpack with Jacquard by Google
The second item to use Google's Jacquard technology is a sleek black backpack from the French luxury brand.
Nadi X yoga pants
They look like conventional yoga pants but Nadi X pants can sense when your posture is incorrect and send you feedback via an iOS app.
Under Armor Athlete Recover apparel
A range of clothes that absorb heat from your body and reflect it back as infrared light, which is said to help muscle recovery.
Sensoria smart socks
Sensors in the socks and an anklet work together to analyse your running and provide tips to improve, as well as measuring steps, speed and distance.