Google & Levi’s Partnership: Wearable Technology is Game-Changing
- Google tried selling smart glasses with an exorbitant $1,500 price tag in 2013.
- There’s a new line of wearable technology that’s reasonably priced under $200.
- This is a big trend in tech that’s on the verge of taking off.
In a TED Talk, Google co-founder Sergey Brin outlined the main problem with smartphones.
He said: “You’re standing around and you’re just, like, rubbing this featureless piece of glass.”
Wearable tech has been in Google’s sights since 2013, when Brin introduced smart glasses.
I had the opportunity to try out the short-lived Google Glass at Google’s headquarters in 2014:
However, the Google Glass never caught on.
There was a camera above the lens that was flamboyantly invasive. Other pedestrians on city streets worried they were being videotaped.
The glasses also sported an exorbitant $1,500 price tag, which made them unattainable for the average consumer.
But there’s a new line of wearable tech that’s reasonably priced under $200. Better yet, they look like everyday, unobtrusive items.
This will be the new way we interact with our digital world — by wearing it.
Smartphones Have Taken Over Our Lives
Let’s face it: The amount of time we spend swiping and tapping on our mobile phones is a national epidemic.
Smartphones have only been around for a little over a decade, yet the average American spent three hours and 35 minutes a day on their smartphone in 2018.
And it’s not like we’re spending all that extra time phoning Grandma. Listening to music on smartphones accounts for 50 minutes of daily usage, with social media coming in a close second at 40 minutes.
This year, mobile will end TV’s reign as the top attention-getter in tech.
There are real-world implications for staring down at a 5-inch screen for 20% of your day.
There’s the constant crick in your neck. There’s also a more fatal risk of distracted drivers. You’re 12.2 times more likely to crash while using a mobile phone.
The National Transportation Safety Board reports that 491,000 people are using their phone and driving on a daily basis.
And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured on a daily basis due to distracted driving.
There’s also a slim chance that you might walk into a mall fountain while scrolling through cat videos on Facebook:
I don’t foresee a future where we fumble through our pockets or purses to dig out a mobile phone in order to pay for a coffee … or summon the closest robotaxi.
That’s why one of the biggest developments in the 2020s will be how we interact with our technology.
Smart Clothing Is the Next Big Thing
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how there are signs that the human-machine relationship is already changing with Amazon’s new Alexa wearables.
These are Amazon’s new glasses (Nasdaq:AMZN), earbuds and a smart ring that integrate with its voice-controlled operating system.
They let you interact with your smartphone while keeping your eyes on the road or pavement. And each of these devices costs less than $200.
This is a big trend in tech that’s on the verge of taking off.
Statista predicts the market for “smart clothing” is expected to more than triple in the next three years, from 8.1 million shipments in 2019 to 26.87 million units in 2022.
Yet Amazon isn’t the only tech behemoth attempting to change the way we interact with intelligent devices…
New Tech for the Cool Kids
Levi’s denim jacket is an iconic fashion item that has withstood the test of time.
Style icons James Dean and Marlon Brando tucked a pack of Camel cigarettes in the pockets and wore them over white T-shirts. Singer Elvis Presley swiveled and pivoted to “Heartbreak Hotel” clad in denim.
In the ’70s, actor Martin Sheen brought back the look in the movie Badlands.
In my youth, the Levi’s denim jacket was passed on to Zack Morris in Saved by the Bell and Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills, 90210.
And now, it’s only fitting that the denim jacket is getting a tech makeover.
The new Levi’s Trucker Jacket, made in collaboration with Google, lets the “cool kids” interact with their digital life while keeping a smartphone tucked away.
For the reasonable price of $198, the Levi’s jacket has sleeves interwoven with touch-sensitive threads that connect to a small Bluetooth device embedded in the cuff.
The jacket vibrates when a favorite contact texts you. It tells Spotify (NYSE:SPOT) to skip to the next song with the swipe of a cuff. It can even control your smartphone’s camera from 20 feet away.
Jean jackets aren’t the only fashion pieces getting a tech makeover, however.
Google has also worked with fashion designer Saint Laurent on a black canvas “CIT-E” backpack that can control a phone via a smart strap. It works with the same Google-built app in the Levi’s jackets.
The bag went on sale in September and retails for $995.
So you might start seeing more wearable tech users swipe their sleeves or tap their glasses. But at least they won’t be looking down at their phones anymore.
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