Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group has taken 100 year old technology and slapped it on a slab of sand to change how we interact with software and hardware. Project Soli consists of a small chip with a gesture control sensor to control devices without actually touching them. It’s a ‘gesture radar’ small enough to fit on a watch, keyboard, monitor or tablet, and functional enough to control sliders, buttons or 3D objects with pinpoint accuracy.

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Project Soli uses broad beam radar to track sub-millimeter motions in 3D space. The chip recognizes movement, velocity and distance and can be programmed to change input based on distance. It’s like a supped-up Theremin without the need for weird facial expressions when you move your hands about. “What we propose is that you use a hand motions vocabulary,” said ATAP technical program lead Ivan Poupyrev. Ready to learn a new hand language? Here is Ivan and team introducing the technology.

The chip works within the 60Ghz radar spectrum at up to 10,000 frames per seconds to track those tiny tendril twitches at high speed and with great accuracy. Eventually, they plan for it to include everything needed for plug-n-play integration. First, by utilizing the current gestures for mobile devices (swiping, tapping, etc.) and augmenting those with hand motions for natural interaction with a Soli-enabled device.

The implications of this is not minor. ATAP says manufacturing the device can be easily scaled. So, it’s very possible consumer electronics of the future, from televisions and mobiles phones to microwaves and toasters could be fitted with this new chip to capture the finesse of human touch.

Currently, they’re demonstrating Soli with wearables, but interaction with the ‘Internet of things’ or ‘other computing devices’ is not out of the realm of possibility. This can of course be applied directly to 3D modeling and sculpting software or the devices we use. It seems far fetched with the promise of the same hands-on thrills from existing gesture-based input devices or even more applicable touch devices, but what’s missing from those, Soli seems to address. Is it the next great thing to change 3D modeling? You tell us.

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Gifs via: Airows

Author

Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.