Google's radar-based hand motion sensor gets FCC approval

Reuters | Published: January 02, 2019 14:27:16 | Updated: January 04, 2019 14:51:33


Google signage is seen at the Google headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US on December 19, 2018 — Reuters/File

Alphabet’s Google unit won approval from US regulators to deploy a radar-based motion sensing device known as Project Soli.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in an order late on Monday (local time) that it would grant Google a waiver to operate the Soli sensors at higher power levels than currently allowed. The FCC said the sensors can also be operated aboard aircraft.

The FCC said the decision “will serve the public interest by providing for innovative device control features using touchless hand gesture technology.”

A Google spokeswoman did not immediately comment on Tuesday, citing the New Year’s Day holiday.

The FCC said the Soli sensor captures motion in a three-dimensional space using a radar beam to enable touchless control of functions or features that can benefit users with mobility or speech impairments.

Google says the 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.

The company says that “even though these controls are virtual, the interactions feel physical and responsive” as feedback is generated by the haptic sensation of fingers touching.

Google says the virtual tools can approximate the precision of natural human hand motion and the sensor can be embedded in wearables, phones, computers, and vehicles.

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