Google demonstrated the operation of a “touch sensitive” cable for headphones. Similar to conventional buttons embedded in the headphone cable, the “I / O braid” controls media, volumes and other functions with tweezers and double-tap gestures.
Equipped by a system called “Helical Sensing Matrix”, the cable is capable of recording touch gestures along its entire length and in any direction. Looking like a simple braided cable, the “I / O braid” is surrounded by capacitive and conductive wires, in addition to adding visual feedback on lights driven by fiber optic wires.
This is a Google research project that, although cables have lost space in the mobile market, may still have applications in other sectors. One of the highlights highlighted by the giant is the application of this technology to fabrics, such as “hoodies capable of controlling the music of the cell phone with discreet touches”.
In this prototype, the “I / O braid” is able to detect different levels of pressure, pinch gestures, finger slides, single and double touches and even when it is held with the hand with great precision. In video, Google demonstrates how the capacitive and conductive wires react to different touches and explains the composition of the braids.
The project required the participation of volunteers to provide data for an artificial intelligence that controls the interface of the smart cable. Weeks of use provided information to improve the accuracy of the commands – introduced to the system via machine learning. Later, the cables improved their ability to differentiate accidental touches from purposeful gestures.
In the description of the project, Google says that the cables are accurate in 94% of the gestures – which is insufficient to introduce them to the market; still, it is a promising result for less demanding applications than headphone cables. The volunteers, in turn, enjoyed the interactions with the sensors. For them, controlling the volume of the media is much more intuitive with gestures than with conventional buttons.
Even if it is just a concept, who knows one day we may have cables and fabrics with sensors for gestures?