Google’s Konnect-i smart backpack hands-on brings touch controls to a bag

by birtanpublished on October 29, 2020

Google may have unveiled new chromecast new speakers and new pixel phones last week but let's not forget the company still has a hardware division that works on you know the cooler fringer side of things and this is out of the atap project it's called jacquard we have heard of jacquard before out of google where they've made this smart jacket with levi's using touch sensitive fibers woven into the cuff of the sleeve to allow you to do things like interact with your phone without even pulling out your phone

This week google and samsonite are releasing a new connect eye backpack featuring jacquard technology and so this is our chance to see if jacquard works better on a backpack than it does on a jacket so it's not like we're going around to a lot of places these days so the backpack released this year especially under a brand known for its travel products like samsonite might be a bit odd in terms of timing but you know if you're going on a hike

You're going on a camping trip you might appreciate that hands-free experience the connect eye and jacquard proposition is very similar to the levi's commuter trucker jacket in the past where basically is powered by a little brain module a little almost thumb size module with google's technology you insert it into a slot in the bag whereas you did it into the cuff before with the jacket and this will help the touch sensitive fibers connect to your phone on the samsonite connect eye backpack

These touch fibers are on the left strap you'll want to fix up the adjustable straps so that they sit comfortably within reach for you so that you're not looking for them when you're out and about once you connect the module into the backpack you'll have to walk through a very similar again setup process through the app by downloading the jacquard app from the google play store once that's set up you'll want to also define what one touch will do what two touches would what a swipe left or swipe

Right you can select from functions like taking a selfie controlling your music playback asking assistant to read your notifications for example the options available here are mostly still the same as before and while they were fairly limited they're also kind of targeting a very small set of use cases like when you're outdoors and commuting for example so after a very brief experience with the new samsonite

Connect eye backpack with jacquard i can tell you that like it does feel a little bit more useful than the smart jacket version it's faster ridiculously faster like sometimes i would even get text messages uh in later than the backpack actually vibrated to tell me i had gotten it so that's impressive i also really like the haptic feedback on the left strap telling me that i have a notification and sometimes also you know vibrating in tandem with countdowns with my selfie timer

That's useful and actually stronger more noticeable than on the smart jacket which might actually not even have had vibration in the first place or if it did was so soft that i probably didn't register it there is one thing that i don't think is super useful though these notification lights for things that you assign them to i don't know that i'm gonna see them when things come in i'll feel the vibration which is great but i'm not going to be able to like i don't know that i can look down and be able to tell the color all the

Time this is something i really have to spend a little bit more time with to know if it is truly useful but even on the smart jacket before i didn't find these led notification indications the most useful application of this technology i am however so far impressed and also think that the backpack form factor is a bit more versatile than a jacket i can wear a backpack any time of year but i'm sure it's all not going to wear a jacket in the summer so this really is

Something that i can carry around with me year round the only thing is i'm also not going outside a lot these days uh the places that i carry a backpack to are airports and show floors two places that i don't think i'm gonna visit in a while so again i don't know how useful this will be for people who don't carry backpacks with them i would love to see google take this technology to more types of garments and more types of things you can carry on your body hopefully something that might weather

The seasons as well as before the setup process for this jacquard product is pretty straightforward you have to press a button down on the module and until it lights up and then connect it to your phone on my pixel 4a this connected really quickly and seamlessly the i believe a bluetooth connection here actually worked really well and then i went through the app to assign gestures and what the tasks they will do are so i set up uh brush up to skip to the previous

Track brush down to skip to the next track and a double tap to what else take a selfie and i just used it what's extra helpful about the jacquard platform here this time around is that when i double tapped it to start the camera on my phone and take a selfie it also vibrates to let me know there's a countdown going on so when i double tapped it my viewfinder came on and on the viewfinder i saw three two one but there's also vibration that goes as it was counting down the the haptic

Feedback is a nice additional touch here while i did think the notification light was not the most useful it was nice to be able to feel the vibration when a text comes in swipe up to hear what was said and then get you know that all that context that i need however it is missing an important component when the assistant reads out the message it doesn't tell me who it's from so when my colleague asked what time are you getting here sherlin

I didn't know who was asking me i didn't know what to say so it would be helpful if google added this extra information in a future version what time are you getting here that's really incredibly fast as for the backpack itself now i'm not a backpack reviewer i'm not going to spend all day telling you how it feels and how it fits but this is a samsonite product it's pretty high quality um it will cost you a couple hundred bucks at least to get there's plenty of pockets here which is

Something i look for when i'm buying my own backpacks plenty of room for you to stuff your pens pencils laptop sleeves etc feels very sturdy there's this like comfortable padded back here so yeah there you go as a backpack it holds up at 200 for the slim version of this backpack and 220 for the standard version that i have right here these are very expensive though and i mean samsonite backpacks are already pretty expensive ranging between 60 and 180 dollars for all their varying

Models but for the ones that the connect eye are based on which is the standard pro they're twice the price the original are about a hundred dollars so you're really paying a premium here for that smart fiber technology it's really up to you to decide if that woven technology and the convenience it might bring and whether or not you're traveling a lot these days is enough to justify that difference in price if you're in the market for a backpack already this might be something you want

To consider but if you're just looking for something to make your life a bit more convenient maybe a smart watch would do the trick so again this is really a purchasing decision that's best left to you and your priorities to help you make those purchasing decisions make sure you've subscribed to engadget for buying advice and in-depth reviews on smart watches smartphones laptops tablets and what have you out of the world of consumer technology

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