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Here’s how squeezable sides work on Google Pixel 2 XL

Google revolutionizes the smartphone market with the Pixel 2 XL, offering new squeezability.

We’re hoping a teardown by iFixit will reveal just how impressive this phone is. Follow along as we plumb the depths of Google’s latest, greatest (and biggest) handset!

The site published its inside look at the Pixel 2 XL this morning, and while there aren’t a ton of surprises to be found, cracking open the phone does reveal one thing we didn’t know a ton about: How the Pixel’s Active Edge feature actually works.

Active Edge is Google’s name for the feature that lets you squeeze the Pixel 2’s sides to open up the Google Assistant. It turns out, it works using a pair of “strain gauges” on either side of the phone.

The setup looks like this:

Google Pixel 2 XL Squeeze FeaturePixel 2 XL Active Edge sensor Photo: iFixit

Here it is, the secret to the squeeze—

What you’re looking at is a series of steel blocks with resistors between them, sandwiched inside a pair of flexible circuit boards, according to iFixit.

Half of the pair of sensors responsible for detecting when you squeeze the edge of your Pixel 2 XL. The sensor consists of a flexible printed circuit board wrapped around both sides of a line of steel chunks, with strain gauges(Strain gauges are deformation-sensitive resistors, that slightly change their resistance when stretched or squished) bridging the gaps between the metal bits.

That means when you squeeze the outside of the Pixel, you’re ever so slightly bending the case, deforming the resistors, and giving the Pixel some data on how much they’re being bent.

According to iFixit there are actually two rows of strain gauges on each sensor, giving the Pixel even more sensitivity and “allowing it to detect even the slightest of deflections.” That increased range is likely also what allows Google to offer a variety of pressure settings for when the Active Edge feature goes off.

“As you squeeze, the outer row of gauges should be shortened, while the inner row is lengthened. This gives the Pixel software a larger absolute deflection to detect and measure to trigger the feature.”



This seems to be the same setup that HTC used in the U11 for an identical feature called Edge Sense (which isn’t terribly surprising — HTC built the smaller Pixel 2). It turns out this is pretty similar to how Apple’s Force Touch trackpads work, too. The trackpads don’t move, but they’re still able to register a click when force is applied to them. iFixit found a series of “tiny strain gauges” beneath the trackpad when it open one up two years ago, and the site had expected to find something similar inside the Pixel 2.

Check out iFixit site for more..

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