Google’s next true wireless earbuds could be controlled using your skin

The Google Pixel Buds
The Google Pixel Buds (Image credit: Future)

Forget touch and voice controls: Google’s next wireless earbuds and smartwatches could be controlled by drawing on your skin.

That’s according to a recently awarded patent spotted by LetsGoDigital, which suggests Google's developing a skin interface for a range of different wearable devices - including some that look like its Pixel Buds and its Pixel Watch.

Much like how you can swipe up and down on some true wireless earbuds to control the volume, or tap on them to play/pause your music, this new patent shows how similar gestures would instead be applied to the skin near your ears.

Similarly, rather than swiping on your smartwatch display users would instead control what they see by swiping on their arm, wrist, and the back of their hand.

According to the patent, the devices will achieve this by using multiple sensors that can pick up nearby movements and translate them into recognizable controls. 

Additionally, Google has implemented machine learning technology that's capable of distinguishing these purposeful motions with regular movements - so you shouldn’t have to worry about turning off your wireless earbuds when you want to eat your lunch or to scratch that annoying itch.

Analysis: new and improved touch controls

If this tech can work effectively then skin gestures could offer some significant advantages over traditional touch controls that many wireless earbuds already use.

For starters, skin gestures would give users more space to draw. Not only would this make it easier to input preexisting gestures, but the space could allow Google to create new more elaborate controls to improve the functionality of its wireless devices.

On top of that, by removing the need to touch your earbuds you’re less likely to move them out of place or push them uncomfortably far into your ear canals. Achieving a strong seal can improve the audio performance of in-ear headphones, so using these controls could make the listening experience more enjoyable and more consistent.

It’ll also help to keep your devices clean. If you hate having to smudge your smartwatch screen to use it, these skin gestures will eliminate that annoyance.

All that said though, we’ll have to wait and see what Google does next. As with all patents, there’s no guarantee that we’ll actually see a Google device use skin gestures until the brand officially unveils one.

However, with the Sony Link Buds already showing skin controls in action, it’s probably only a matter of time before Google and others follow suit.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.