Google likes to squeeze stuff. The Pixel line of smartphones has featured a “squeeze to activate” function for a few years, and apparently the company is looking to expand that gesture to accessories. A video of an experimental touch-sensitive braid, posted by Google researcher Alex Olwal and applied to a USB-C headphone cable, shows some unconventional accessory input.
Google calls its new design “I/O braid,” which incorporates a series of capacitive touch and motion sensors for various controls. The fabric surrounding the cable is also woven with fiber optic strands, allowing the cable to light up for some visual feedback.
Google’s demo video showed interactions for “hovering” (with fingers an inch or so away from the cable), pinching, twisting, and grabbing the cable with a full hand, all of which can be assigned to common actions like play/pause or volume control.
It’s not clear whether Google is considering adding this tech to a consumer product. The latest leaks on the upcoming Pixel 4a indicate that it won’t have the Active Edge “squeeze” function, so maybe the company isn’t going all-in on unconventional input at the moment. Still, it’s an interesting bit of conceptual design.