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Google filed “interactive cord” patent that might replace earbuds, secure PCs



google, patent, interactive cord
copy of the interactive cord taken from Google’s

US Patent

  • Google has filed for a patent for an “interactive
  • The cord has multiple applications, such as possibly
    offering a more secure way to create user  authentication,
    according researchers from CB Insights 
  • The cord could help gadget makers save money because it
    could make buttons and sliders obsolete. 

Google has
filed a patent
for an “interactive cord” that conceivably
would give a user the ability to control devices by touching
specific areas of the cord instead of buttons or sliders,
according to the Aug. 14 filing.

Researchers from CB Insights
who first discovered the patent
filing, see a lot of different applications for the cords, such
as helping to provide more data security.

Beyond replacing hardware, it could also provide an
alternative to voice control,” CB Insights said in a report. “It
has the potential to shake up user authentication methods, which
often rely on the use of passwords. A touch-enabled cord
could enable verification that goes beyond typing in
passwords and the use of methods like facial recognition or
Touch ID.”

google, patent, interactive cord
photos from Google’s patent on interactive

US Patent

According to the patent, the interactive cord includes a cable
wrapped within in a fabric cover. The fabric cover possesses
 conductive threads woven into the fabric cover to “form a
capacitive touchpoint” that senses the voltage in a
person’s finger. It can also detect varying  contacts, such
as taps and swipes. 

By touching one part of the cord, a person can play music.
Touching another area can raise the volume. The difference here
is that the cord won’t possess any buttons or sliders that
malfunction due to sweat or skin and are costly to build.

CB Insights is most excited by the cord’s potential as a means to
authenticate a user’s identity.

“A wide array of touch patterns can be used,” CB Insights wrote,
“including tapping out a rhythm, touching specific or relative
locations, applying varying amounts of pressure on the fabric
cover, sliding down the cord, or manipulating the cord so one
section touches another — to authenticate users on devices.”

Google said in the patent that this type of authentication is
“less likely to be compromised by adversaries and those with
malicious intent,” because a pattern is harder to discern than
keying in codes.

Google’s drawing of the interactive cord depicted it as a part of
a set of earbuds for listening to music and making phone calls.

That’s an interesting but odd use for such a cord, given that
headphones and earbuds are increasingly wireless these days.

The patent is also interesting, given that Google is currently so
focused on making computers and gadgets understand human
voice commands. For example, users of Google Home can play
specific songs, control volume, and create calendar events
entirely through speech.   

But speaking commands out loud in public is not always practical
or viable, and an interactive cord could open the door to lots of
exciting new applications. 

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