A brand new invention from Google is getting a lot of attention, mainly because this one is far from a watch. Google Technical Program Lead Ivan Poupyrev recently introduced Project Soli to the world during the Google I/O ATAP session in San Francisco on May 29th, 2015. ATAP stands for Googles new Advanced Technology and Projects group.
Ivan Poupyrev, Google Technical Program Lead lead for Project Soli and Project Jacquard
Photo taken by Peter Ma at Google I/O 2015
Photo taken by Peter Ma
Project Soli uniquely uses a small chip that picks up your real-time movements and then uses those movements in altering its signal. Using radar as a sensor is a first of its kind technological breakthrough, capable of detecting gestures like simply rubbing your fingers, which was not possible until now.
Google demonstrated that a single chip could even detect small finger gestures and motions. It is when your hand is at rest that the radar comes up with your baseline response. Thats because even when your hand is still, it still moves somewhat. When you move your hand from side to side or away from the radar it changes the signal. In addition, crossing your fingers or simply making your hand into a fist changes the signal as well. In order for an app or service to understand the signal, ATAP has APIs tapping into Project Soli.
Instead of just being hands-free, your hands become the UX with Project Soli. If you want to get away from a screen or need something larger than a smart watch, Project Soli may really come in handy. Because you utilize your bodys own natural movements combined with radar, the invention can identify your gestures and then execute the commands to match. This could mean you dont need a wearable at all in some cases. It may also be used along with Google Glass to create a seamless experience.
Google developed the miniature Project Soli in a short amount of time. In took about 10 months for the company to develop the near dime-sized chip from a PC-sized radar emitter. While the project is still in its early stages it is already gaining ground in the tech world. A developer-ready test board should be available later in 2015. The APIs should also be available then as well, with access to the developer community for building applications and technological advances. Google has not provided an exact release date just yet, though.
Another big announcement from ATAP concerns Project Jacquard. This new technology weaves any textile with gesture and touch interactivity. In other words, using conductive yarns, woven on an industrial loom, can then make furniture and clothes into interactive surfaces. While these yarns include metallic alloys combined with synthetic or natural yarns, they cant even be distinguished from other yarns and fabrics used in everything else you see today. The technology can also weave sensor grids throughout the surface, making it interactive.
Google I/O is the companys annual developer conference, aimed at releasing information about Googles new developer products, plus including hands-on learning and seminars.