In 2021, Patently Apple has covered four Apple patent applications from Apple regarding possible future smart fabric based devices. One was for smart footwear, a second covered a smart headband and yet another covered flexible smart fabrics that could be used with an Apple Watch band and beyond. Our smart fabric archives also reveals 5 more smart fabric patent applications in 2020 and other patents going back to 2017 when we first noticed this segment of Apple technology becoming an IP trend.
At present, Google's project Jacquard that started in 2015 is well ahead of others in the field of smart clothing/fabrics as noted in the original video below.
In 2018, Engadget posted a review of Google's smart jean jacket as presented below.
Over the weekend, Patently Apple discovered a new patent application from Google on smart fabrics made public by the U.S. Patent Office last Thursday. One of the features of the smart fabric jacket that the Engadget video review covered was the convenience of knowing when an Uber ride was coming and arriving.
Google's patent application published last week, titled "Vehicle-Related Notifications using Wearable Devices," is deadly focused on this single application.
Google's patent more specifically covers vehicle-related notifications and gestures that can facilitate ridesharing and other vehicle-related services. By way of example, an interactive textile, integrated into an interactive object such as a wearable garment for example, may be provided to facilitate ridesharing efficiencies by providing convenient context-sensitive signaling to the user regarding the status of a requested ride.
In some instances, this may allow a phone or other computing device to remain in a user's pocket, purse, etc., or otherwise out of sight, by eliminating the need for the user to look at their smartphone after they have ordered the ride. It is noted that integration with a smartphone or other computing device remote from the garment is not required. For example, the interactive textile may include an integrated computing device that can perform one or more of the functions.
More particularly, in some examples, different notifications or notification types may be used in accordance with vehicle-related services such as ridesharing. For example, a first type of optical, tactile, audio, haptic, or other signal (such as a cuff-mounted LED lightup) can be emitted when a driver or vehicle comes within a predefined radius (or other general closeness metric) to a location.
The location may be a predefined pickup location, the location of the user, the location of the interactive textile, or the location of a computing device external to the interactive textile. A second type of optical or tactile signal (such as a vibration of a cuff-mounted buzzer) can be emitted when the driver or vehicle has arrived at the pickup location.
According to some embodiments, a variety of additional systems and methods are provided. For example, actuated fabric tightening/loosening can be used as one or more of the tactile signals. In one embodiment, an arm or other portion of an interactive garment can provide a mild squeeze signal to the user's arm when the driver or vehicle arrives, in addition to (or as an alternative to) the vibrating cuff button.
As another example, there can be a so-called "analog" relationship between the actuated arm squeezing and the location of the driver or vehicle, wherein the fabric tightening/squeezing increases gradually according to the declining distance between the driver or vehicle and the pickup point.
In Google's patent FIGS. 7C and 7D we see that the sleeve of a smart garment provides a user at work a first and then second notification that the Uber is nearby and that they should go out to greet the vehicle; FIG. 9 is a flowchart depicting an example process.
Google's patent FIG. 17 above illustrates an example of a graphical user interface.
Google's patent FIG. 11 below illustrates an example of a user interaction with a ridesharing service using an interactive object on the sleeve of the smart garment; FIG. 21 illustrates one embodiment of an interactive garment that's in the form of a dress.
As shown in FIG. 21 above, the garment #910 includes a capacitive touch sensor #912. The user contacts the touch sensor with a particular motion or gesture. The input to the capacitive touch sensor is communicated to an electronic module that then controls interactive features of the garment. The pleats are designed to provide a mild squeezing or vibrating sensation to notify the user that their ride is nearby.
Google's patent FIGS. 12 and 13 are flowcharts depicting example processes.
At present, the advancement of the smart fabric trend is moving glacially to market. The pace is expected to accelerate over the next five years. There's a lot of detail to Google's invention on smart fabrics related to working with ride-sharing apps like Uber and you could review these details of patent application 20210110717 here.
Throughout the year Patently Apple tries to check out what Apple's main competiton like Samsung, Google, Facebook and Microsoft are up to, patent wise, looking for possible new trends and advancements that could be coming to market.