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Smart Clothing Could Soon Be Part of Your Wardrobe

An e-textile expert talks about the future of garments with built-in electronics

4 min read
The Commuter X jacket from Jacquard by Google has a battery-operated snap tag on the sleeve that communicates with the wearer’s smartphone.
The Commuter X jacket from Jacquard by Google has a battery-operated snap tag on the sleeve that communicates with the wearer’s smartphone.
Photo: Google

THE INSTITUTEWearable technology, once the domain of rigid fitness wristbands and health monitors, is showing more of its softer side. High-tech companies and designers are increasingly moving to incorporate sensors to create smart clothing. By simply touching the cuff of a shirt, for example, a wearer might activate smartphone apps.

Google has teamed up with the Levi Strauss Co. to offer a clothing line, Jacquard by Google, that has conductive thread woven in. Its new Commuter X jacket [above], which sells for US $350, includes a battery-operated snap tag that lights up when the wearer’s smartphone receives a text message and vibrates when a ride-hailing car arrives.

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The Lies that Powered the Invention of Pong

A fake contract masked a design exercise–and started an industry

4 min read
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Pong arcade game in yellow cabinet containing black and white TV display, two knobs are labeled Player 1 and Player 2, Atari logo visible.
Roger Garfield/Alamy

In 1971 video games were played in computer science laboratories when the professors were not looking—and in very few other places. In 1973 millions of people in the United States and millions of others around the world had seen at least one video game in action. That game was Pong.

Two electrical engineers were responsible for putting this game in the hands of the public—Nolan Bushnell and Allan Alcorn, both of whom, with Ted Dabney, started Atari Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif. Mr. Bushnell told Mr. Alcorn that Atari had a contract from General Electric Co. to design a consumer product. Mr. Bushnell suggested a Ping-Pong game with a ball, two paddles, and a score, that could be played on a television.

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