SoliOne interesting Google project already in the works but given an extra visibility boost by the Google I/O 2016 developer conference is Project Soli, Google’s “new sensing technology that uses miniature radar to detect touchless gesture interactions.” This promises handsfree page turning on Android ebook reading apps, and other similar interactions – all without laying fingertip to screen.

The Soli solution is based on a chip which “incorporates the entire sensor and antenna array into an ultra-compact 8mm x 10mm package.” Compact enough, in fact, to go into a smarwatch, which Google demoed at I/O 2016 (on video here courtesy of The Verge). And obviously the chip is ripe for incorporation into Android smartwatches, tablets, and other devices. Google offers a Soli SDK for developers, with software architecture that could potentially be applied to other chips and devices.

“The concept of Virtual Tools is key to Soli interactions,” adds Google. “Virtual Tools are gestures that mimic familiar interactions with physical tools. This metaphor makes it easier to communicate, learn, and remember Soli interactions.” Obviously you can imagine a page turning function working with the slider gesture that Google already instances as one of its core interaction metaphors. You can also imagine Soli making form factors that otherwise are too awkward for fine manipulation – like smartwatches – better for interaction, which might make smartwatches more appealing for e-reading and even writing. As well as saving finger smudges on your precious smartphone screen …


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