Today, Reuters reported that Google has won an approval from U.S. regulators for deploying a radar-based motion sensing device known as project Soli.
According to the report, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) specified in an order late on Monday that it will grant Google a waiver for operating the Soli sensors at higher power levels than currently allowed. The FCC said, “the decision will serve the public interest by providing for innovative device control.”
These Soli sensors help in capturing motion in 3D space with a radar beam for enabling touchless control of functions that help users with mobility and speech impairments. According to Google, the Soli sensor can allow users to press an invisible button between the thumb and index fingers or a virtual dial that turns by rubbing a thumb against the index finger. Google says“even though these controls are virtual, the interactions feel physical and responsive”, as the feedback is generated by the haptic sensation of fingers touching. According to Google, the virtual tools can approximate the precision of natural human hand motion and the Soli sensor can be embedded in wearables, computers, phones, and vehicles including aircraft.
Last year in March, Google asked the FCC to allow its short-range interactive motion-sensing Soli radar to operate in the 57 to 64 GHz frequency band at power levels consistent with European Telecommunications Standards Institute standards. In July, Facebook Inc raised concerns that the Soli sensors operating in the spectrum band at higher power levels might have issues coexisting with other technologies. In September, post the discussions, Reuters writes, Google and Facebook collectively told the FCC agreeing that the sensors could operate at higher than currently allowed power levels without interference. In September, Facebook told FCC that it expected a “variety of use cases to develop with respect to new radar devices, including Soli.”
Users are excited about this news and are appreciating Google’s efforts towards experimenting something new. One user commented on HackerNews, “Go big or go home. That’s one thing I like about Google/Alphabet. Not being afraid to try completely new things outside the normal comfort zone of their traditional product space, and aiming for the most radical potentially game-changing ones at that.” Another user commented on Reddit, “Will be interesting to see if this makes it into new watches/phones by the end of the year.”
This news was first reported by Reuters.