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Pixel 4 Motion Sense : How it works

On 15th October, Google took the wraps off its latest pair of smartphones: the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. A new feature that comes with those new devices is called Motion Sense, which is Google’s marketing language for Pixel 4’s radar-based features.

Google Pixel 4

You might be thinking: “Radar? As in what they use to track aeroplanes and submarines?” Yes, that is the very same technology housed in the front-facing sensor system of the Pixel 4. Radar allows users to control aspects of their phone without the need to physically touch the device.

Although contactless smartphone control is definitely a highlight of Motion Sense, it’s not the only thing that’s possible.

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There are currently three primary variables that Motion Sense uses to create smartphone responses: presence, reach, and gestures. Those are essentially in order from simplest to most intricate.


Let’s start with the Presence. The radar system within the Pixel 4 creates a sensor field with about a one-foot radius around the device at all times (unless it is face down). In the simplest terms, this field determines whether or not you are near your phone. If you are near your phone, certain things will happen. For example, the always-on display will illuminate if you are nearby and turn off if you aren’t.

Pixel 4 Motion Sense


The next system is Reach. This system tracks whether or not you are in the process of reaching for your phone. If you are, it will respond in simple ways, such as turning on the front-facing sensors that control Face Unlock. It will also make an alarm or phone call quiet down a bit if you are in the process of reaching for your phone.

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Finally, there are Gestures. A swipe of your hand in front of your Pixel 4 will have multiple effects depending on what’s happening on your device at the moment. For example, a swipe over an incoming call will reject it and a swipe over an alarm will turn the alarm off. You can also skip tracks with this gesture if you’re listening to music.

Here’s how the Pixel 4’s ‘Motion Sense’ technology works

It should be noted that, due to the implementation of government-regulated radar sensors, Pixel 4 will only be sold in certain areas around the world. As of now, that includes the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. It’s possible other countries could see Pixel 4 in the future if Google can meet their individual radar regulations.

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