The Google Pixel Watch was once a hot topic, attracting rumors and speculation from every corner. However, the trail has mostly gone cold ever since. We saw a report of Google winning a patent for Watch Band mechanisms in April 2019, over a year ago. This week, the US Patent Office published a new Google patent application that has something to do with wearables. The patent itself is revealed by Patently Mobile.
This new patent is of the gesture kind and could be for a possible Google Pixel Watch in the pipeline. However, since the feature may be software-induced, it may also be a patent for a future update to Google’s Wear OS. The new patent grants the company a license to adopt hand-gesturing. However, since the patent involves the presence of a dedicated chip to detect said gestures, we think this could be a hint to an upcoming Google Pixel Watch.
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The patent works by embedding an optical sensor into a watch chassis and uses an algorithm to sense gestures from the user’s fingers. This is similar to the implementation of the Soli Radar chip we saw Google use in the Pixel 4 smartphone. Further, the new gestures will reportedly also work with movements of the wrist, or even the arm wearing the Google Pixel Watch.
We see in the patent images that this can be used to make intuitive gestures like ‘Hold’ and ‘Release’. The holding gesture here could be used to trigger a feature like the Assistant, while the other releasing gesture could be used to disengage the earlier feature. An alternate tap gesture is also seen. This lets users quickly tap their index finger and thumb to trigger a function. A series of similar taps in quick succession may trigger different functions.
While the optical sensor itself is designed to be small and easy on the battery, the algorithm is designed to detect gestures accurately from arms of different sizes. Further, the dedicated sensor would mean that the gestures should theoretically get detected irrespective of how a user wears the watch. This could be straight or upside down, or higher or lower on the forearm; the gestures should still work.