“Jacquard takes ordinary, familiar objects and enhances them with new digital abilities and experiences, while remaining true to their original purpose – like being your favourite jacket, backpack or a pair of shoes that you love to wear.”
Such is Google’s elevator pitch for Jacquard, its offshoot that collaborates with apparel brands, using conductive fabric and discreet Bluetooth-enabled tags, to create wearable electronics that extend the capabilities of phones and other digital devices.
It’s already worked with the likes of Adidas and EA Sports (on an insole that measures kicking power, distance and speed) and Levi’s (on a pair of denim jackets with simple, touch-sensitive controls in the cuffs).
Now comes a collaboration with Samsonite, on the Konnect-i backpack, which is somewhat similar to the Jacquard x Saint Laurent Cit-e backpack released last year. Being Samsonite, though, the Konnect-i is more utilitarian and hard-wearing, and less haute couture.
It works like this: a little rechargeable Jacquard tag, about the size of a 50-cent piece, lives in the bag and connects to your phone via Bluetooth. In turn, the tag talks to a finely ridged section on the left-hand shoulder strap. When you hear a call coming in, brushing or tapping the ridges (the exact gesture is customisable) will pick it up. Likewise, the same area can be used to play, pause or skip music, get an ETA or hear the next step when you’re navigating some place, and take a selfie when your phone is out of reach.
The Konnect-i is made of water-repellent fabric and the Jacquard tag itself has a water-protection rating of IP54, which states “the product is fully protected against … splashing of water from any angle”. This thing is absolutely suitable for commuting on wet days.
Past that, we see it as useful for any busy types who are always on the move. The bag features a padded laptop slot suitable for a large Macbook, plus a side water bottle holder. Numerous other storage pockets are suitable for notebooks, novels and other items.
The Konnect-i comes in two sizes, standard and slim, retailing for $299 and $329 respectively. Both backpacks can be purchased directly from Samsonite.
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