CANNES, France—Google Creative Labs London was the height of fashion in the Cannes Lions Product Design competition tonight, winning the Grand Prix for a jean jacket—the Jacquard—that it developed with Levi's. The garment uses a touch-sensitive cuff and conductive thread to connect users to their Android phones.
By tapping the jacket's wrist, wearers can access information and functions. For example, while riding a bicycle, they can receive estimated arrival times for various destinations via an earpiece, and also choose to accept or dismiss incoming calls and change music playlists. Of course, this arrangement lets riders keep their eyes on the road at all times.
"The selection that we chose made us dream, as product designers," said jury president Amina Horozic, lead industrial designer at fuseproject. "When we saw it, we could imagine using it as a solution to many of the problems we face today. It could impact almost every category that Cannes Lions Product Design has. It can be sustainable. It can be innovative. It can make a better and safer life. We can interpret it in any sort of way."
The jacket is the first step to creating wearables that communicate directly with the cloud (so, ultimately, no phone will be required), Google's Ivan Poupyrev recently told the Verge. "In the future, every [kind of garment can have] our technology woven in, and technologies added," he said. "You can use it for other applications. Business wear, athletic wear ... we're looking very carefully at the enterprise."
Horozic said at the Cannes press conference: "I feel like it can enable and empower us to make a better world, a safer world and a world that we want to live in. … It's not just fabric. It's the future."
After a year of development and fine tuning, the jacket is primed for beta this fall, with a wider release planned for 2017.
—U.S. Product Design winner
Doppler Labs in San Francisco was the lone U.S. Product Design winner, scoring a Lion—the category makes no gold, silver or bronze distinctions—for its Here Active Listening wireless earbuds that connect to a smartphone, allowing users to "customize" their aural experience in the physical world. For example, they can mute the roar of jackhammers beneath their windows, or turn up a particular instrument in the mix at a live concert.
The only multiple Product Design Lion winner was Serviceplan of Munich, Germany, which won for Dot Inc.'s braille smartwatch and Otztal Tourism's ski pass with a built-in positioning chip that facilitates a rescue in case of an avalanche.