Google’s Jacquard technology which debuted on Levi’s Commuter Trucker jacket and Yves Saint Laurent Citoyene bags has landed on Samsonite’s Konnect-i backpack. A sensor strip on the left strap accepts gesture recognition to control functions like navigation, music playback, and phone notifications.
Taps, swipes, and long holds on the strip can deliver call or text notifications, take a selfie or trigger Google Assistant. Users can customize what gestures trigger which actions in the Jacquard app.
Four years after Google’s Project Jacquard debuted on Levi’s trucker jacket and later in the $1,000 Saint Laurent Cit-E backpack. It’s finally landing as a mass-market product from luggage maker Samsonite. The Konnect-i slim backpack is available in both a standard and a sleeker slim version for $200 CAD and $200 USD respectively. Features the same tech that turns your clothing into touch-enabled controls. The left strap has a fabric module embedded with Jacquard fibers that respond to swipes and taps. It’s connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth and can be programmed in the Jacquard app for a variety of functions. Including audio controls like play/pause and next track, communication, like call and text notifications, and triggering selfies. The Google Assistant, and navigation through functions like on-demand turn-by-turn directions5, dropped pins and saved locations.
To connect, you slot a thumb-sized dongle into a nook. The backpack’s left strap syncs with your phone over Bluetooth. The Konnect-i also has a USB charging port that doubles as a portable power bank. The backpack itself is comfortable and roomy, with a padded laptop pocket that can fit. A 15.6-inch machine and plenty of storage pockets for a lunch box, Nintendo Switch, or headphones. It also has a side water bottle holder and a Smartsleeve that fits over upright suitcase handles.
Google’s Jacquard touch-sensitive fabric technology is making its way into more and more fashion pieces. The latest is a smart backpack from Samsonite that can control your phone with a few swipes and taps on the strap.
The Konnect-i Slim and Standard backpacks are woven with Jacquard on the left shoulder strap (along with a padded laptop pocket that can fit up to a 15.6-inch notebook). A small tag that’s rechargeable via mini-USB slots. The strap relays notifications with a built-in LED and a tiny vibration motor. Using the Jacquard app, you can assign different gestures to specific functions like answering calls or text messages and hearing text notifications. Using Google Maps for navigation, taking a selfie, playing music, and knowing when a rideshare service has arrived.
You can customize which gestures trigger which actions by swiping on the Konnect-i app. Currently, you can choose between four gestures — brush up, brush down, and a double-tap on. The left shoulder strap — activates call and text notifications, on-demand turn-by-turn directions, effortless selfies, and easy music playback. A built-in LED on the left shoulder strap will light up to reflect what alerts you’ve set. The app also lets you turn on a feature that keeps your phone in a low-power state and wakes it up when you open the bag.
The backpack looks pretty standard and offers a lot of space for a bevy of things. Like large water bottles, a lunch box, a Nintendo Switch or headset, and a slew of notebooks. It also has cushy padded shoulder straps and easy-to-access zipper compartments.
However, the real star here is Google’s Jacquard technology. The smart backpack is fitted with a Jacquard tag that is slotted into one of the straps. It connects to your smartphone via a small micro-USB Bluetooth puck and responds to brush up and down and tap gestures on the bag.
You can customize the Jacquard app on your phone to determine what gestures will trigger specific actions on the Konnect-i. These range from music controls (play, pause, next track, and what’s playing) to communication (call and text notifications, triggering a selfie, and prompting the Google Assistant for news and updates). You can even use it as a navigation device through functions. Such as estimated arrival times, directions, dropped pins and saved locations.
All of these features require you to have a compatible Android or iOS device, the app, and the Jacquard dongle that slots into the backpack. The Jacquard tag will cost you a little extra. But you’ll find that the smart functionality is enough to justify the additional cost over something like a standard backpack.
The Jacquard fibers in the backpack are able to recognize taps, long holds, and brush up or down gestures. This allows you to control a range of tasks without having to touch your phone, such as pause and play music, skip songs, place a Google Maps pin in your current location, or trigger your Google Assistant.
In addition, you can also use Jacquard to answer calls or text messages and make your travels a little easier with turn-by-turn directions or pedestrian and bike navigation. Finally, you can also set up notifications to let you know when incoming emails or text messages are received, so you don’t have to worry about missing important texts or calls.
Jacquard, first introduced in Google ATAP’s Commuter Trucker Jacket and then incorporated into the $1,000 Saint Laurent Cit-E backpack, has made its way to luggage maker Samsonite for much more affordable pricing. The Konnect-i Slim and Standard models cost $199 and $219, respectively.
Aside from looking like a regular backpack, the only thing that sets this one apart is a small module housed in the left shoulder strap where a Jacquard tag sits. This is what enables the smart functions of the bag, which can be configured through the Jacquard app. The left strap can be brushed to skip the next track, pause and play music, or trigger a selfie mode with the backpack’s camera. It can also be used to respond to a phone call or text, or as an in-game controller for FIFA Mobile.