Google’s Project Jacquard: Textile-Based Device Controls

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Textile Devices with Controls Built into them

I remember my father building some innovative plastics blow molding machines where he added a central processing control device to the machines so that all adjustable controls could be changed from one place. He would have loved seeing what is going on at Google these days, and the hardware that they are working on developing, which focuses on building controls into textiles and plastics.

Outside of search efforts from Google, but it is interesting seeing what else they may get involved in since that is beginning to cover a wider and wider range of things, from self-driving cars to glucose analyzing contact lenses. I was surprised to see a web page from Levi’s showing a joint project from Google and Levis on their Project Jacquard.

This morning I tweeted an article I saw in the Sun, from the UK that was kind of interesting: Seating Plan Google’s creating touch-sensitive car seats that will switch on air con, sat-nav and change music with a BUM WIGGLE

It had me curious if I could find patents related to Google’s Project Jacquard, so I went to the USPTO website and searched, and a couple came up.

Attaching Electronic Components to Interactive Textiles
Inventors: Karen Elizabeth Robinson, Nan-Wei Gong, Mustafa Emre Karagozler, Ivan Poupyrev
Assignee: Google
US Patent Application: 20170232538
Granted: August 17, 2017
Filed: May 3, 2017

Abstract

This document describes techniques and apparatuses for attaching electronic components to interactive textiles. In various implementations, an interactive textile that includes conductive thread woven into the interactive textile is received. The conductive thread includes a conductive wire (e.g., a copper wire) that that is twisted, braided, or wrapped with one or more flexible threads (e.g., polyester or cotton threads). A fabric stripping process is applied to the interactive textile to strip away fabric of the interactive textile and the flexible threads to expose the conductive wire in a window of the interactive textile. After exposing the conductive wires in the window of the interactive textile, an electronic component (e.g., a flexible circuit board) is attached to the exposed conductive wire of the conductive thread in the window of the interactive textile.

Interactive Textiles
Inventors: Ivan Poupyrev
Assignee: Google Inc.
US Patent Application: 20170115777
Granted: April 27, 2017
Filed: January 4, 2017

Abstract

This document describes interactive textiles. An interactive textile includes a grid of conductive thread woven into the interactive textile to form a capacitive touch sensor that is configured to detect touch input. The interactive textile can process the touch-input to generate touch data that is useable to control various remote devices. For example, the interactive textiles may aid users in controlling volume on a stereo, pausing a movie playing on a television, or selecting a web page on a desktop computer. Due to the flexibility of textiles, the interactive textile may be easily integrated within flexible objects, such as clothing, handbags, fabric casings, hats, and so forth. In one or more implementations, the interactive textiles may be integrated within various hard objects, such as by injection molding the interactive textile into a plastic cup, a hard casing of a smart phone, and so forth.

The drawings that accompanied this Project Jacquard patent were interesting because they showed off how gestures used on controls might be used:

Controls in action

textile controller
Here is a look at the textile controller.
double tap
A double tap on the controller is possible.
two finger touch
A two finger touch on the controller is also possible.
swipe up
You can swipe up on textile controllers
extruder
An Extruder showing plastics materials being heated up to send to a mold
molded devices
The patent shows off plastic molder devices with controls built into them.

My father would have gotten a kick out of seeing a plastics extruder in a Google Patent (I know I did.)

It will be interesting seeing textile and plastics controls come out as described in these patents.

Added 9/25/2017: Saw this news this morning: This Levi’s jacket with a smart sleeve is finally going on sale for $350

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14 thoughts on “Google’s Project Jacquard: Textile-Based Device Controls”

  1. This project from google seems pretty fascinating.

    There is definately a lot to know about this subject. I love all the points you have made.

  2. Hi Pradeep,

    Project Jacquard is a manufacturing hardware approach. We’ve been seeing more hardware coming from Google, such as the Pixel, Google Home, Google Wifi. When you see things such as zippers everywhere, and you have the potential to build something that could be possibly everywhere built into almost everything, there is a reason to get excited. It will be interesting seeing where Google goes with these controllers that can be built into jackets and hats and other objects.

  3. Now Google is going to monitor us via what we wear? Yipes!

    Guessing there is no limit to how much data can be obtained via augmented textiles.

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  6. Bill-
    I spat out my beer when I read The Sun quote – it was a first ever that The “Stun” has ever been quoted in an SEO piece as far as I know…
    Bum wiggle my hairy English butt!
    More seriously though, the patents demonstrating how hand gestures may be used: this caused me to think of the Apple-Samsung legal battle where touch screen finger movements became an issue.
    Do you think a gesture like a hat tip can be effectively caught by a patent?
    Best,
    Karl

  7. Hi Karl,

    I think they wanted to show off how the textile controls work in the patent as well as they could. It’s a limited set of controls, and it might be easy for someone else to copy – the more they detail it, the more they can protect it against others who might try to use something similar to it. Thanks, Karl.

    Bill

  8. Google Project is truly fascinating, from self-driving cars, google contact lens up to the Project Loon and now this, Project Jacquard, Google is truly something that contributes a great deal to the advancement of the world. I’m getting amped up for what will happen in the future.

  9. Hi Rebecca,

    It is interesting seeing some of the hardware projects that Google is coming out with. With Medical devices, autonomous cars and even more. I’ve been hearing recent rumors about game consoles from Google, like an Xbox device. I’m hoping they come out with a patent about something like that, so that I can learn more about it. We will see what they come out with.

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