Patent published on December 7, 2023

Google's New Patent Could Make Pixel Buds Smarter About When You're Listening

Ever been caught off guard with your earphones blaring out loud the minute you held them in hand? If so, Google has good news wrapped up in their new patent titled "System and Method for In-Ear Detection Using PPG" (patent number: US20230389812A1).

The common snag with the current generation of earphones is that they can often misinterpret being in use when they're not - like when they are just held in the hand or placed in a purse. This mistake empties the battery as music keeps playing, even though there's no one listening. This is an unfortunate hiccup with proximity sensors which are cheap, tiny, and therefore the go-to choice for wearable tech.

However, Google has formulated a solution to this vexing problem. Their solution hints at a tweak in the wearable tech, namely earphones, using a sensor to detect certain signals related to human subjects. It captures signals to calculate the heart rate and detect whether the wearable gadget is actually in use or not. Even better, the solution can keep the device in an active state when it's being used, or switch it to a low-powered state when it's not. This intelligent distinction saves the device's battery life while offering an improved user experience.

So, what does this look like in our everyday life? Take Google Pixel Buds for instance. If this patent goes into effect, the next time your Pixel buds accidently turn on, they will quickly know that they are not in use - saving you from the surprise of unwanted music and drained battery life. This innovation has the potential to become a new normal for all wearable tech, not just earphones.

But remember, this is just a patent. A patent does not always mean that the idea will turn into a reality we can purchase off the shelves. It ensures that the idea belongs to Google and if developed, could pave the way for users to have a more seamless and intelligent interaction with their wearable tech. We can only hope for now that this patent becomes a readily available market reality.

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