Newly leaked images purportedly showing off the front panels for Google's upcoming Pixel 4 line of smartphones reportedly add weight to previous rumors that the flagship devices will ship with the search giant's radar-based Project Soli chip onboard. That's because, while there are cutouts in the display panel's top bezel that will obviously be used for cameras and an earpiece speaker but there's also a comparatively large and unexplained oval-shaped cutout that seems to line up with those expectations.
Stacking on previous rumors and early features
This isn't the first time hints at the inclusion of Google's Project Soli chip have been posited for its upcoming flagship, expected to be announced sometime in October at the search giant's annual hardware event. Most recently, two such rumors cropped up as recently as June, suggesting that the feature might be used for things like controlling music playback among other things.
Prior to that, the rumors mostly centered around how the chip could be utilized in other devices such as smartwatches and smart home speakers.
Other Pixel-branded devices and Android itself have included gesture controls for years, with variances ranging from on-screen swipes to the accelerometers and other sensors detecting device motion. The new chip would, if it's included, expand on those use cases by quite a bit and could represent the next wave of innovation in the navigation and interactive space for mobile operating systems.
This is also not the first time touch-free gesture controls have been rumored for or used in Android, to begin with, and previous implementations might give some indication of how this will be used in the Pixel 4 if the speculation is accurate
Among recent examples of touchless technology in smartphones are the features found in LG's flagship, the LG G8 ThinQ. That feature is referred to by LG as "Air Motion" and it allows users to unlock their phone, control media playback, unlock the phone based on key characteristics of the user's hands, swipe away messages or answering calls, and more.
LG's feature is based on something entirely different though since it relies entirely on "time of flight" camera sensors. So Google's implementation may be used similarly to LG's or it might allow for even more interactions, depending on what the radar-based technology turns out to be truly capable of.
What else is new?
Remaining aspects of the front panel don't seem to differentiate too far from what's been seen with suspected previous leaks of the Pixel 4. To begin with, there aren't any notches or punch hole cameras to be seen. Instead, if the leaked images are accurate, Google is keeping a slightly reduced 'chin' area on the device, minimal side bezels, and a top bezel that's just large enough to house all of the technology that's expected with this handset.
The design flies in direct opposition to hopeful concept renders that have been created by unassociated designers but serves a practical purpose of allowing new "groundbreaking" features, according to the source of the leak — long-time Twitter user 'Ice universe'.
The oval opening of the Pixel 4 Series front panel means that the Google Pixel 4 Series will be groundbreaking and new and worth looking forward to. pic.twitter.com/9Pg9bGcWrsAdvertisement
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) July 20, 2019