SOLI: The Final Interface is Your Hands

Finally, it is time to say good-bye to buttons and touchscreens. You need only wave your hands in thin air for controlling your gadgets. This game changer is a breakthrough from Google and is its project Soli. Soli makes it a thing of past to hit incorrect keys with your thumbs and you can conveniently forget swiping screens. The new gesture technology from Google is very precise and allows working on the smallest of displays.

Soli has small chips generating invisible radar to recognize finger movements. The chips are small enough so that they can be embedded into wearables and other devices. The deciphered finger movements are then translated into commands that computers can understand.

The system identifies delicate finger movements using the radar coming from tiny microchips. The system can use gestures to create touchpads, virtual dials and more as shown in the video above. Although there are camera-based sensors, such as Leap Motion, to capture gestures, they are cumbersome to set up requiring special hardware.

The inventor of this technology is Mr. Poupyrev, who heads the team of designers and developers at Google’s ATAP or Advanced Technology and Projects Lab in San Francisco. According to the Russian inventor, the beauty of Project Soli is the chip that can be embedded into just about anything and the use of invisible radar emanating from it.

Typically, police use the smallest radar for speed traps and even these are the size of a shoebox. The team had to struggle hard to shrink that radar to fit it inside a microchip. Although it took them 10 months, Mr. Poupyrev and his team were able to shrink all the components of radar down to millimeter size. They worked with Infineon, the German chipmaker and were inspired by the advances made in Wi-Gig, the next generation communication protocol for Wi-Fi.

Soli is a simple technology and the lack of cameras makes it easy to put wherever you want – in a toy, watch, wearable computer, car, furniture or anywhere. It is useful whenever people want to connect with devices. For example, Soli technology makes it possible to interact with objects in games making use of VR or virtual reality.

Since Soli makes it possible to replace a physical device, it works perfectly for Virtual Reality, as the field of vision of the user in VR is limited. The microchip uses radar to recognize movements of fingers. The chip radiates a broad beam radar for recognizing movement, distance and velocity. The radar uses the 60GHz spectrum and captures about 10,000 frames per second. The chip then translates the movements into commands that computers can understand.

Once Project Soli becomes reality, in the future we will be able to control devices such as fitness trackers and smart-watches only by our finger movements and will not require smart-phones as of now. Very soon, you may simply be able to snap your fingers to switch on the lights in your room and to vary its intensity by twirling your fingers.