A future with Accessibility Sewn in
People who live with disabilities often have to adapt – in fact, they do so almost every day. Technology is beginning to step in to make it easy to navigate life and experience it in all facets. Jacquard by Google is a series of collaborations that combine garments with technology; the Levi’s Trucker Jacket with Google Jacquard is one of these collaborations and it is yet another stride toward an accessible modern world.
All is for All has trialed the Levi’s & Jacquard collaboration from an accessibility perspective and will be taking you through the features of the jacket, how to set it up and explaining the ways in which this jacket can make your day-to-day more accessible. Paul Dillinger, VP Global Product Innovation of Levi Strauss & Co has said, “Two years after we first launched Jacquard the technology has become smaller and more discrete, more affordable and with more useful [features]. …but the premise and purpose remain the same: you can keep your phone in your pocket and your eyes on the world around you, staying connected without being distracted”.
Jacquard by Google is a small black tag, as in the image above. The Jacquard is no larger than a stick of gum but is slightly wider. The Jacquard connects to an app on your phone and four simple commands which you activate by touching the sleeve (that are later explained) trigger different actions on your phone. The Jacquard also lights up and vibrates with different alerts.
THE SET UP
The Jacquard tag needs to be charged first, via the USB that comes with your jacket and device. The tag takes 3 hours to fully charge. You start by downloading the Jacquard app, selecting the item you own (which in our case is the Levi’s Trucker Jacket) and connecting the Jacquard tag and the app together. Once the two are connected you insert the Jacquard tag into the port for the device which is located on the sleeve of your Levi’s jacket. This is the same process as occurs for most Bluetooth devices. We found the set-up super quick and easy.
TRIGGERING THE COMMANDS
The four commands possible with Levi’s Jacquard are triggered by swiping down your sleeve, swiping up your sleeve, double-tapping your sleeve and holding your hand down over the sleeve. Each of these are subtly done, the movement must come into contact with the tag, the tag will vibrate when it connects with your movement.
PERSONALISING THE COMMANDS
As is in the video above, once all is connected you’re able to personalise what is enabled by each of the movements. This version of Jacquard has more functions than any other. A list of the Jacquard’s abilities is here.
THE FEATURES WE CHOSE FOR ACCESSIBILITY
On my daily commute, I often have to stop pushing my wheelchair in order to change the music, or I have to choose an entire playlist in advance. By making the brush in and brush out commands ones which play and change music, I am able to have more immediate control to change what I am listening to, without having to stop my commute. This may seem like a very small activity, but accessibility is about giving people more agency and independence; which is what this feature has done for me.
I made the trigger Google assistant to read out my calendar appointments to me. I have found this feature easier than consistently having to find and navigate my phone. The cover or hold down command turns off the Jacquard tag.
I have triggered the Jacquard to alert or vibrate for new calls and texts when my Uber is near-by (I almost always Uber) and also the tag will alert when I am separated from my phone. The Jacquard will audibly read out the details of your Uber. I have found these to make my day to day navigation easier, by giving me simple moments in the day – where I can have more agency.
Levi’s is advancing, with Google – a future with accessibility and technology sewn in. This is yet another example of the fact that accessibility is something which benefits everyone; the features of this jacket were designed to enhance daily life, but the mix of audio and visual cues, the ability to give individuals ease and agency make this garment and the piece of technology – ideal for those with disabilities.