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Brief Published: 17 Sep 2019

Google’s Interactive Bag Teases Screen-Free Future

Saint Laurent Paris

Google’s Jacquard technology connects metallic yarns to cloud computing, giving products digital capabilities. With the project’s second launch, Google rallies designers and makers to embed their offering with Jacquard to create smart ecosystems for a screen-free future.

After first launching Jacquard in 2017 with the Commuter jacket (see The Brief), Google is reintroducing the tech in the Cit-E backpack for Saint Laurent Paris. The bag’s straps are made from a textile that combines metal alloys with polyester fibres, enabling it to detect interaction and transfer electronic signals. The Jacquard device – a small black tag fitted with electrons – sits in a leather pouch between the straps, and connects these electrical currents through to the cloud.

This allows wearers to connect to their smartphone through intuitive gestures on the bag’s straps. With a swipe or tap, users can change a song, adjust volume levels, receive navigation information and be alerted to mobile notifications. The backpack marks the first time the Jacquard technology will be available outside of the US, and looks to be the start of Google’s campaign for widespread use. 

In an April TED Talk, project lead Ivan Poupyrev announced that Jacquard will be made publicly available in the near future. The discreet design means the tag can be seamlessly worked into furniture and fashion pieces, taking the appearance of a decorative button. In his talk, Poupyrev promises that Google will not dictate how the technology is used – instead empowering designers to imagine how their products can benefit from digital connectivity. 

As we cite in the Consumer of 2035, screens will soon make way for interactive environments, and brands need to consider how to get ready for this future. “Makers of things will have to start thinking [about] what kind of digital functionality will they have to offer to their consumers,” says Poupyrev. “They will have to become service providers, or they may become irrelevant.”

Saint Laurent Paris