Levi's first smart jacket -- known as the "Commuter Trucker" -- arrived just a few weeks ago with a hefty $350 price tag. While the jacket featured some neat technology, it was certainly an unusual idea that has attracted its fair share of skepticism.
Regardless, the ability to control certain aspects of a smartphone hands-free must have resonated with quite a few people, if Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Chip Bergh's remarks at The Wall Street Journal's D.Live tech conference are any indication.
According to the executive, his company is already working with Google on a second generation smart jacket that aims to incorporate additional features that will nearly eliminate the need to constantly remove your phone from your pocket. Bergh didn't offer details on what sort of improvements or features we might see in version 2.0 of the Commuter Trucker but he did say that virtually any task that doesn't require a screen is on the table.
Bergh seems optimistic about the future of connected clothing technology overall.
"I've been asked the question before, 'When will you know if this is a success?' My answer is, 'I already know it's a success, because we've learned so much about how to innovate by partnering with Google."
Working with Google has taught the company how to "(embrace) failure more readily", as a result of "two very, very different cultures" merging to create one product. For example, Bergh claims that one prototype jacket's sleeve caught on fire during development. Google responded by saying, "That gives us a problem to solve!"
Whether or not Bergh's predictions regarding the future of smart clothing will come true remains to be seen but at the very least, there's something to be said for the added safety that a jacket like the Commuter can bring to bike-riders.