Earlier this week, Google's advanced technologies and projects (ATAP) group gave us an update on a device called SoliType which is a product of its latest Project Soli initiative originally announced last May. The creation in question is a small radar intended for wearables, smartphones, and tablets. It basically gives your latest hi-tech gadget the ability to accept hand gesture input without actually feeling any hands. Sure, air gesturing isn't a new thing by any means, but the way SoliType executes it is, at least in the context of consumer electronics. What ATAP has basically built here is a "full gesture recognition pipeline" that can detect and map hand gestures in an extremely accurate manner.
Adding a radar to a smartwatch, smartphone, or a tablet not only means that you can easily navigate through device's menus without any physical input, but that you can also utilize some of its more advanced functions like typing in a similar hands-free manner, just by moving your hand or fingers through the air. Actually, just by moving your fingers in the air, as the radar technology ATAP came up with is more than accurate enough to be able to recognize input with minimal movement, so your wrist can basically be static. If you're skeptical about how this work, you can witness the power of radar technology for yourself in the video below. The short clip was posted by a San Francisco-based Android developer Alex Bravo on his Google+ page and features the SoliType prototype which is shown in the form of a relatively simple-looking USB accessory, not unlike an external trackpad.
As demonstrated in the video, placing your hand in relative proximity to the device is enough for it to start recognizing motion input. The technology is still in its early stages so typing naturally isn't as fast as simply using a touch screen keyboard, but it's not terribly slow and looks immensely cool. Despite having a long way to go, ATAP developers are confident that their project could potentially completely change user interaction with modern smart devices. Given the fact that they already managed to squish radar technology into a chip which is small enough to be installed in things like watches and phones, it probably won't be long before we get an update on Project Soli. All in all, ATAP currently seems to be on the right track to change the concept of gadgets and we're excited to see what it has in store for us next.