Jeans: the latest smart technology?

Jeans are the latest commodity to fall into the ever growing whirlpool of smart technology.

A week ago I came across this article. In short, Google has partnered with Levi’s to create the world’s first pair of ‘smart jeans.’ What that means exactly, no one knows. Details are still under wraps, but there will be some sort of special fabric interwoven with a conductive material, which will most likely connect in some way to the smart phone in the jeans pocket. Warning: a bit of a rant on its way.

I fully acknowledge that I have simple, traditional tastes in a lot of ways, but am I already becoming part of a generation that thinks things are moving too fast, too far? Remembering the good old days (and sounding like my mother while at it – love ya, Mum) when we talked to people on the phone rather than like Facebook photos to stay in touch; when jeans were simply a denim pair of trousers.

Smart phones, smart watches, now smart clothing... one must wonder what’s next. I can’t help but vaguely question if all this progress is beneficial or detrimental to human development in general. As machines do more for us (think how crucial they are in so many aspects of modern life – supermarkets, airports, banking) it can be argued that humans do less. Is the need for innovation and creativity diminishing as there is more and more around us that can do it all?

Recently I went to see a performance of Peter Pan in an outdoor theatre in Regent’s Park. As it started while the sky was still light, there wasn’t much lighting effects at the start, and there were certainly no hi-tech stage tricks, with actors carrying each other and props at times to create an effect of flying. I have not been to a production like that in a while, and the simple pleasure of witnessing human creativity, human performance, was amazing.

Trust me, I know I am sounding like an old man here, but when I compare the joy that of pure creativity like that I saw in Peter Pan, and the overwhelming, almost foreboding feeling that arises every time I read about something new like Google and Levi’s new jeans, it frightens me a little. The rate of change is crazy, for sure, but anytime I look back on something that shocked me when announced, it all seems fine in hindsight. I just can’t help but wonder how far is too far? Where is all this progress headed, and could it actually be somewhere not so great? Should we start calling ‘smart’ technology, ‘creepy’ technology? Given that it’s now getting in our jeans, I think so. Will our beloved jeans that we know and love soon become as rare as standard television, replaced by a more complex, fancier version, with so much more on offer? Why oh why can jeans not simply be jeans? In my opinion, there’s nothing better than the original glorious things which have been around for centuries and look great on anyone, in any fashion era. Sigh. Goodbye, noble jeans, you have served us all well.

Confirmation: rant complete.