Google Project Soli - Control Devices With A Gesture

Google's Project Soli fits on a tiny chip that can detect sub-millimeter motions at high speed and accuracy.

(Google Project Soli video

At Google, the project is the work of the Advanced Technology and Projects lab, the company's research lab focused on futuristic technology led by Regina Dugan (and which is separate from the Google X labs that's developing self-driving cars and internet beaming balloons).

Google showcased an early prototype of the Soli technology on stage with impressive results. Google showed how precise, fine motor skills, such as pinching the thumb and index finger, or rubbing them together at different speeds, could be used to control all sorts of things without actually touching them.

In one demo, the founder of Google's Project Soli, Ivan Poupyrev, kicked a virtual soccer ball by flicking at the screen. In another, he changed the hours on a clock by turning an imaginary dial with his fingers, and then changed the minutes by raising his hands further away from the screen and doing it again.

Google said that after 10 months of work it has already shrunk the technology to enable Soli into a small fingernail-sized chip. The idea is that a chip this small could be integrated into electronic devices, such as smartwatches with cramped screens not well-suited to traditional input methods like finger-swiping or styluses.

Fans of sf great Philip K. Dick may recall his description of this idea in his 1955 novel Solar Lottery:

"You're wrong, honey," Al said seriously. "The l-channel is for news and factual information. The s-channel is for pleasure. I enjoy watching this way, but - He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.
(Read more about Philip K. Dick's hand wave control)


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