Google has filed a patent for new sensor technology that could be used to control smartwatches with gestures. The patent describes a system of sensors that could be embedded in the housing of a smartwatch to detect gestures such as pressing, tapping, squeezing, and swiping.
The current methods of controlling smartwatches, such as rotating crowns and bezels, have a number of drawbacks. They can make the manufacturing process more complex, make it more difficult to waterproof the device, and damage the aesthetic of the watch.
Google’s proposed strain gauge sensor system would address all of these issues. The sensors would be embedded within the housing of the watch, making them invisible to the user and eliminating the need for any moving parts. This would make the watch easier to waterproof and more durable. Additionally, the strain gauge sensors would allow for a more seamless and intuitive user experience.
Image of patent filing showing how the gesture system would work | Source – Wearable
The existence of this patent opens up for discussion the possibility that this is what Google has planned for its next smartwatch, the Pixel Watch 3. Particularly the possibility of a buttonless model, since the patent filing provides a number of examples of how the strain gauge sensors could be used to control a smartwatch. For example, a user could press the side of the watch to play or pause music, tap the top of the watch to open a specific app, squeeze the sides of the watch to zoom in or out, or swipe across the side of the watch to scroll through a list.
In the filing, Google also suggests that the strain gauge sensors could be used to control other devices, such as smart home devices. For example, a user could squeeze the sides of their watch to turn on the lights or swipe across the side of their watch to dim the thermostat.
As we know, patent filings are not always an indication of a product feature that will eventually be shipped to consumers. However, it is fun to speculate what Google has up its sleeves when it comes to their hardware. Hopefully, this technology does make it to the next Pixel Watch, along with an option for a larger model, which seems to be a popular request amongst Google Pixel fans.