room44 innovates

The predictions are that smartphones will be old technology within a few years. Commentators are sceptical. Try telling anyone you talk to and see what they say.

And yet there are developments that may just be tolling the death knell for our favourite device:

Bone conduction implants have been around for a while and used in medical settings but the technology is now creeping into the consumer space after a few false starts. One of the more recent “Zungle’s Panther Bone Conduction speaker transmits sound waves to the skull via vibrations.”

Spectacles by Snap send video straight to your online account. They see what you see. GoogleGlass anyone?

Project Jacquard may be the glue that sticks the emerging tech together. Already available as a Levi jacket: “Project Jacquard makes it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into any textile using standard, industrial looms. Everyday objects such as clothes and furniture can be transformed into interactive surfaces.”

With haptic and audio prompts part of the consumer landscape, gesture control and voice control appearing more and more and connected screens increasingly integrated into everyday lives, our need to carry screens is decreasing.

A portal on a world of change just opened with Project Jacquard.

And so it begins. A week ago, we wrote of a few innovation drivers that are coming down the road at us at increasing speed. Among them is the prediction that smartphones will be superseded by 2024.

This isn’t our prediction ( but, at the time of writing, there weren’t many overt indications that ‘innovation’ had seen the signals. Sure, wearable technology has seen an upswing in the use of step counters and heart rate monitors and also a downturn after an initial rush of enthusiasm amongst end users, but lasting and cohesive connectivity still sits in the realms of the Beta / VHS wars of the 80s.

So when Google and Levi announced its Project Jacquard is launching a new, enabled jacket at SXSW this week (13th March 2017) we had an eye-sparkle moment.

We’d just reported a seven-year endpoint to a trend that hadn’t really got going and now it most definitely has.

Project Jacquard is presented as an open canvas concept. Here is utilises gesture control and a freedom from carrying around your smartphone brick just as the starting point.

Extrapolate the opportunities to stem from this single but complex development and all manner of viable possibilities appear.

Is this the end of the smartphone? Should we expect to see Chinese phone factories losing volume and Corning without a ready market for Gorilla Glass? Maybe Yorkshire mill towns can expect a revival? Who knows, but all manner of futurists and analysts will get their teeth into this sooner or later.

Where we used to rely on Apple for groundbreaking tech advances, Google now leads the way – today at least.

From the Project Jacquard website:

Connected clothes offer new possibilities for interacting with services, devices, and environments. These interactions can be reconfigured at any time.

Jacquard is a blank canvas for the fashion industry. Designers can use it as they would any fabric, adding new layers of functionality to their designs, without having to learn about electronics. 

Developers will be able to connect existing apps and services to Jacquard-enabled clothes and create new features specifically for the platform.

We are also developing custom connectors, electronic components, communication protocols, and an ecosystem of simple applications and cloud services.

OK, so Google has tried something like this before with Google Glass, but this is different. This trend now signals a truly new vision of the future for everybody, not least of all for App, and all, developers.

No phones? What does an App now need to look like to meet the need of a new consumer? Where’s the screen? Snap Spectacles is a thing, gesture control is working its way into cars already and so why not clothing.

The signs have been there for ages. We knew it was coming. Now enabled clothing is a thing too, with a platform to grow on.

Gen Z will get it straight away. For a new concept so radical the idea has immediate appeal and not just for digital natives. Baby Boomers with the cash to blow on a $350 jacket will want it – now.

Jacket talks to GoogleGlass? Entirely probable. To Alexa? Simple. To Garmin Connect, Moves Count, MyFitnessPal, Evernote? No problem.

It may still take seven years to kill the phone but it’s really feasible that it will happen – sooner than we thought.

Watch this space. A portal on a world of change just opened.

Future thinking; it’s what we do at room44.

Drop us a line at and let’s see how we can help each other. Innovation justified.

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