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Pinch me!

The new AirPods Pro have a new sensor embedded that can feel your pinch… Image credit: Apple

I bought my Airpods just 2 weeks ago and of course now there is a new, and better, model. That’s life in this never ending tech evolution. You have probably read about them. What stimulated this post it’s not the Airpods per sé but a new sensor that has been embedded in them: a force sensor that is able to detect when you pinch the stem of one of them.

These tiny earpods have two microphones embedded – one (dual beam-forming) to detect external noise and one to detect the sound inside your ear channel for suppressing noise- , dual optical sensors, one motion-detecting accelerometer, one speech-detecting accelerometer and one force sensor.

This latter is the one that caught my attention. The Airpods stem is made of hard plastic and yet Apple has been able to embed sensitivity in this plastic so that it can detect your pinching and switch from noise cancellation to transparency mode,

I guess this is the future. Materials will embed sensors that will make objects aware of our touch. We are moving, thanks in part to these technologies, to a much more natural form of interaction with our ambient and this will make quite a difference in the way we will perceive the ambient, as I was discussing just few weeks ago in the series of posts on the future of interfaces. And as Airpods prove, the future is coming faster than we expect.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.