The Pixel 8 Pro’s mystery sensor is… a temperature sensor?

When the first Pixel 8 Pro renders leaked, the primary point of speculation revolved around the camera layout. Besides the usual three cameras and an LED flash, what in the world was the second circle of sensor clusters right under the LED flash? Some people let their imaginations run wild and thought it was a LiDAR sensor; we figured Google was just rearranging things like the laser-autofocus array. The real answer turns out to be weirder than either of those options.

Android researcher Kuba Wojciechowski, the same person who scored the first live video of the Pixel Fold, now has the first live video of the Pixel 8 Pro, hosted over at 91mobiles. The video appears to be an internal Google demonstration showing off the main new feature of the Pixel 8 Pro: a temperature sensor. If you remember back to the start of the pandemic, some Chinese manufacturers came up with the idea of a smartphone-mounted forehead temperature sensor. Now it looks like Google is going down that road three years later.

The video features a prototype Pixel 8 Pro with a telltale identifying pattern on the back of the phone, which we’ve seen on many Google prototypes. The camera bar features the same layout as OnLeaks’ earlier render, with all the cameras in a single pill-shaped cutout. The video indicates that the temperature sensor is the white circle. The 91mobiles report says the sensor is an infrared thermometer and similar to what most contactless thermometers use. You take your temperature by putting the back of the phone “as close as possible” to your forehead without touching it, and then, over four seconds, swipe the phone across your forehead to the temple. It looks like a lot of work and easy to mess up.

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