Google has shown off ‘I/O Braid,’ a new textile user interface that allows users to control devices with capacitive touch through pinching, squeezing, patting and swiping.
The tech giant’s new technology features capacitive and conductive yarn woven into a broad, ‘helical sensing matrix’ (HSM). At this point, the HSM cord seems just to be a research project, but Google suggests several ways the interesting tech could be integrated into devices. For example, the cord could be used to bring intuitive touch controls to the power cord of a pair of headphones or even a smart speaker.
In a blog post, Google explains how it collected different types of touch from volunteers interacting with the smart braid. The company then used a machine learning model with this data, allowing the braid to detect different types of gestures. The company says that the technology can identify gestures with a 94 percent accuracy rating. While impressive, this success rate probably isn’t quite high enough for HSM technology to be featured in a consumer device — at least not yet.
It’s unclear if Google intends to release this technology commercially, but it’s at the very least interesting and yet another example of the tech giant experimenting with new input methods.
Last year, Google also released a denim jacket with touch-sensitive controls built into its sleeve.