The future of hand-gesture controlled devices might be closer now than ever before as Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team have been granted federal approval from U.S. regulators to continue developing their radar-based sensing project.
Engadget reported the experimental Project Soli has been in the works at Google since 2015 and aims to allow users to control their electronic smart devices using touchless hand gestures. Their motions would then be picked up by a small interaction sensor that would be built into the various smart devices.
Rather than simply pressing a finger to a screen, Soli proposes using physical gestures instead, like rubbing your thumb and forefinger together to control a smart speaker or rotating your wrist to turn up the volume, much like the technology seen in the neo-noir science fiction film, Minority Report.
In the past, Soli has been limited to using lower frequencies for its broad beam radar system, with some companies like Facebook claiming the use of higher frequencies would likely interfere with other technology. However, since earning approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday, Google will now be able to operate the Soli sensors at an even higher frequency, even allowing the sensors to be operated aboard aircraft as well.
The FCC has granted Google this waiver after determining that the technology used by Project Soli could serve the public interest and they saw that there was very little potential for any subsequent harm.
"We find that the Soli sensors...pose minimal potential of causing harmful interference to other spectrum users," the official waiver states. "We further find that grant of the waiver will serve the public interest by providing for innovative device control features using touchless hand gesture technology."
The FCC's permission comes on the heels of Google striking a deal with rival tech company Facebook in which Google amended to continue pursuing powerful radar technology, although less powerful than what it had originally sought to achieve, Futurism reported.
Now, with FCC's approval in hand, Google's ATAP team can effectively move forward with their research and further develop Project Soli to realize its full potential. As The Verge reported, this technology could very well introduce a number of incredible interactive devices, like touchless smart speakers and smartwatches. It could also very well prove useful to any users who have mobility, speech, or tactile impairments who find it difficult to use regular smart devices.