Google secured approval from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to continue development of a radar-based motion sensing technology for smartphones and other devices known as Project Soli.
The sensor technology has been in development since 2015, but trials until now had been restricted to low power levels due to concerns from Facebook and others it might cause interference with existing technology operating between 57GHz and 64GHz. However, the FCC granted Google a waiver which will allow it to test the hand gesture technology both at higher power levels and on board aircraft going forward.
The commission concluded there is “minimal potential” Project Soli will cause harmful interference, adding development of the product is in the public interest: “The ability to recognise users’ touchless hand gestures to control a device, such as a smartphone, could help people with mobility, speech, or tactile impairments, which in turn could lead to higher productivity and quality of life for many members of the American public.”
Project Soli uses a tiny embedded chip to track motions of the human hand using radar beams, enabling touchless control of device functions. For instance, it allows users to push a virtual button by bringing together their thumb and index finger or twist a virtual dial by rubbing their thumb and forefinger together.
Google has said it sees applications for Soli across smartphones, wearables, computers, cars and IoT devices, adding it is part of the company’s vision of “a future in which the human hand becomes a universal input device for interacting with technology”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back