Google's smart headphone cord lets you control your music with a pinch, swipe, or squeeze

headphone cord
(Image credit: Google)
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Google is working on a smart headphone cable that could allow you to control your music by patting, swiping, pinching, or squeezing a fabric cord, according to a blog post (opens in new tab) by the company.

Dubbed the I/O braid, it uses what the tech giant calls a "helical sensing matrix" to sense touch commands, allowing users to change the volume of their music and play, pause, and skip tracks.

According to Google, the I/O braid consists of "electrically insulated conductive textile yarns and passive support yarns", which allows the clever headphone cord to sense when it's being touched by someone's hand.

The braid is also woven with fiber optic strings that light up when it registers a command, and can apparently recognize different gestures with 94 percent accuracy.  

Headphones, hoodies, and speakers

Wired headphones are among the best headphones you can buy, thanks to the enhanced audio fidelity – and security – that comes with a cord. 

However, these cans can sometimes feel a little dated compared to the best wireless headphones, and don't always come with the on-ear controls that stop you from pulling out your phone out every time you want to skip a track – something that the I/O braid could address. 

Aside from improving our headphones, Google has suggested a number of other innovative ways the I/O Braid could be used, including as an interactive cord for gesture controls on smart speakers, like the Google Nest Mini.

Google also suggested that the cord could be used in place of a hoodie drawstring, "to invisibly add music control to clothing". 

Right now, the I/O braid is still just a research project – but if it did every come to market, it could revolutionize the way we interact with headphones, speakers, and even our own clothing. 

Via The Verge (opens in new tab)

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.