Google demos hands-free smartwatch control with Project Soli radar tech


As this year's Google I/O winds down, things are getting weird – in the coolest way possible. So far today we've been checking out some of the announcements to arrive from Google's bleeding-edge Advanced Technology and Projects division, where teams of engineers are cooking up tech that promises to change the way we interact with smartphones, and even think about how such handsets are made. Already we've told you about the upcoming launch of the first Project Ara hardware (finally!), as well as the touch-sensitive Levi Commuter smart jacket using Project Jacquard technology. Now we're taking a look at what the last year has done to advance Google's interest in radar-driven sensor technologies, as we check out an update on Project Soli, including some impressive demos from members of the Soli community.

Smartphones and tablets have long supported in-air gesture controls with the help of cameras and other optical sensors, but Soli takes that to the next level with precision radar. Google's compiled a show reel of some of what developers have been able to do with Soli systems, including in-car gesture recognition, object detection, and even a hands-free music composition tool.

Google's also been working to shrink down Soli and drastically reduce its power requirements, eventually managing to fit it into a modified LG Watch Urbane.

The presence of radar hardware in a smartwatch allows the user to interact with the wearable without needing to make contact with its tiny touchscreen; instead of swiping right or left on its display, users can instead casually wave their hands back in forth in the air. It can even detect distance, expanding UI options as you bring your hand in closer, or respond to fine finger motion – like a hands-free pinch to zoom.

There's still a long way to go before Soli is ready to be implemented in commercial devices, but the past year has already brought big progress, and the availability of a beta dev kit next year should help things keep moving along at the same brisk pace.

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source: Google via Engadget

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