Google has apparently not given up on smart clothing following the failures of its joint efforts with Levi Strauss and has now patented a method for connecting electronics within textiles. The patent itself, filed internationally as International Application Number PCT/US2016/062082, outlines how conductive interactive components are woven into ribbons, with non-conductive portions of the fabric being stripped back, then connected before the entire thing is sealed. It’s worth pointing out that this patent is listed as having been filed back in November of 2016.
Given that Levi’s jacket mentioned above launched much more recently, back in September, it seems more likely that the newly discovered patent ties in directly with that product. However, the jacket, when it finally became available, was met with somewhat lacking enthusiasm. That’s likely down to prominent, high-profile problems with how the capacitive technology was integrated into the fabric itself since it could only be washed a limited number of times before it ceased functioning properly. That was coupled with a relatively high entry price of around $350. The result was stagnant sales from the very beginning – with only three reported sales within the first several hours, despite the hype built around the jacket.
Having said that, it is entirely possible, and even likely, that Google already knew there was going to be an issue with the processes and methods used in creating that jacket. Rather than to delay or scrap a product the joint venture already had in the works, the company could simply have set to work creating a patentable second process while moving forward with its release. Patent PCT/US2016/062082 also describes the steps taken to provide water resistance to the textiles, though the result of project Jacquard was already water-resistant and that doesn’t necessarily add any weight to the idea that this is for a new textile. So while this patent could feasibly represent improvements, the more likely scenario is that it just took this long for the international patent on the textiles to go through the international patent process. The publication date for the patent is, after all, from right around the same time that the Jacquard-enabled jacket from Levi’s was released.
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