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Google could make the Pixel Watch 3 buttonless

The patent hints that the next Pixel Watch could have a design change.

Published onNovember 6, 2023

A user takes a Google Pixel Watch 2 screenshot by pressing the back button and Digital Crown simultaneously.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
  • Google has filed a patent for potential smartwatch sensors.
  • The patent suggests the next Pixel Watch could have new gesture recognition sensors.
  • It appears Google is looking for ways to control the smartwatch without obscuring the already limited screen space.

When you look at the Pixel Watch and the Pixel Watch 2, the design is almost identical. Although Google mostly avoided making any changes to the design for this year’s model, a new patent may hint at a design change for the Pixel Watch 3.

First spotted by Wearable, Google has filed a new smartwatch-related patent. It discusses the possibility of having sensors inside the next Pixel Watch that can detect gestures like presses, taps, squeezes, and swipes.

The patent in question is titled “Gesture recognition on watch bezel using strain gauges.” These sensors would present a new way to use the smartwatch and control certain apps.

Pixel Watch gesture patent

It appears Google’s goal is to simplify the design and prevent users from having to obscure the already limited screen real estate when navigating. “Content on such a small screen is easily obscured when touching the device, making it difficult to precisely select and scroll because the user cannot see what they are selecting or scrolling,” the patent states. It also mentions that buttons, bezels, and crowns complicate the manufacturing process and waterproofing.

The patent acknowledges that dials, rotating crowns, and more are suitable options, but they have flaws.

Rotating scrolling buttons are used to scroll on many smartwatches today, and are reasonably efficient. However, they require a fairly complicated mechanical structure with very small moving parts. They further require waterproofing. Some users may prefer to remove the crown, such as for aesthetic reasons.

However, if a device were to include gesture recognition controls inside the housing, it could result in a cleaner design with fewer moving parts. This would allow the Pixel Watch 3 to remove buttons and other physical inputs from the design.

While this may sound interesting, keep in mind this is only a patent. Companies submit patents for ideas all the time, but only a small number of them ever turn into reality.

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