Google I/O 2016 developer conference
has been studded with landmark announcements that included Google Home, Android TV, Android Auto, Google Assistant and more. But looks like there was room for more exciting launches. The American multinational company has revealed a new Google smartwatch based on Project
Soli that helps users control it using gestures.
Tiny display of smartwatches has always been a spoiler in expanding their usability and popularity and Google taps the issue with this new project. The company is fitting a tiny radar system into a smartwatch that can detect various hand gestures and perform various functions.
“Soli is a purpose-built interaction sensor that uses radar for motion tracking of the human hand,” explained Ivan Poupyrev, Technical Program Lead at Google’s ATAP. He claimed that the Soli’s sensor “can track sub-millimeter motion at high speeds with great accuracy.”
“We’re creating a ubiquitous gesture interaction language that will allow people to control devices with a simple, universal set of gestures.”
The radar system is only the size of a small computer chip and can be inserted into everyday objects and things we use daily. It was demonstrated on a JBL speaker to show how Project Soli could work in the living room. Moving your hand closer to the speaker lights it up, and when you move away it goes into sleep mode. Volume control and change of tracks can also be attained with some simple hand gestures close to the speaker.
Here is what Google had to say about the Soli project:
“Soli is a new sensing technology that uses miniature radar to detect touchless gesture interactions. Soli is a purpose-built interaction sensor that uses radar for motion tracking of the human hand. The Soli chip incorporates the entire sensor and antenna array into an ultra-compact 8mm x 10mm package.”
Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects
(ATAP) division which has been responsible for some of the company’s most high-end projects like Ara and Jacquard is spearheading this project. Project Soli marks an attempt to remove physical interaction with a smart device. This project was mentioned at last year’s Google I/O
, but this time a working device was demoed.
As for now, Project Soli is at a development stage and its development kits will be rolled out in 2017. They will be low-power module designs, and allow you to bring Soli to your hardware and explore what this sophisticated device can achieve.