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Google’s Pixel Watch might be the first smartwatch to support ‘skin gestures’

Google Pixel Watch Leak
(Image credit: Jon Prosser)

What you need to know

  • A 2020 patent filing suggests Google is working on a “skin interface” for wearables.
  • The technology would allow users to perform various functions using gestures on their skin.
  • It remains to be seen if Google will integrate the technology into the Pixel Watch or its next-gen Pixel Buds.

Back in 2019, Google introduced an innovative new feature called Motion Sense with its Pixel 4 series phones. The feature, which was powered by a Soli sensor, enabled users to do things like skip songs, silence phone calls, and snooze alarms using motion gestures. While Google dropped the feature from its Pixel phones just a year later, it looks like the search giant is now working on a new gesture technology for wearables.

The folks over at LetsGoDigital have spotted a patent filed by Google to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2020, titled “Skin interface for Wearables: Sensor fusion to improve signal quality.”

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Google "skin interface" patent

(Image credit: WIPO via LetsGoDigital)
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Google "skin interface" patent

(Image credit: WIPO via LetsGoDigital)
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Google "skin interface" patent

(Image credit: WIPO via LetsGoDigital)

As per the patent description, the technology uses one or more accelerometers to detect a type of gesture performed on the skin of the body of the user in a region near the wearable device based on the “mechanical wave that propagates through the portion of a body of the user between an input region and the wearable device.”

The feature would make it possible for users to swipe through different menus by swiping on their wrist in the area near a smartwatch. Similarly, users can swipe up or down along the back of the ears to adjust the volume of their earbuds.

While no smartwatch maker has introduced anything similar yet, Sony’s recently launched LinkBuds do have a very similar feature that the company calls “Wide Area Tap.” The feature enables users to control music playback and answer phone calls by tapping the area around their ears where the earbuds are worn.

If Google is still working on the “skin interface,” the technology will likely debut with the Pixel Watch. Google’s answer to the best Android smartwatches is rumored to be announced in July, alongside the Pixel 6A.

Babu Mohan
Babu Mohan