Google unit wins U.S. approval to deploy radar-based motion sensor

Vastavam web: Alphabet Inc’s Google unit won approval from U.S. regulators to deploy a radar-based motion sensing device known as Project Soli. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in an order late on Monday that it would grant Google a waiver to operate the Soli sensors at higher power levels than currently allowed. The FCC said the sensors can also be operated aboard aircraft. A Google spokeswoman did not immediately comment on Wednesday.

The FCC said the Soli sensor captures motion in a three-dimensional space using a radar beam to enable touchless control of functions or features that can benefit users with mobility or speech impairments. Google says the sensor can allow users to press an invisible button between the thumb and index fingers or a virtual dial that turns by rubbing a thumb against the index finger. In a video on its website, Google said a user could operate a smart watch, scroll through music or adjust the volume by simply motioning using the system.

The company says that “even though these controls are virtual, the interactions feel physical and responsive” as feedback is generated by the haptic sensation of fingers touching. Google says the virtual tools can approximate the precision of natural human hand motion and the sensor can be embedded in wearables, phones, computers and vehicles.

Facebook Inc raised concerns with the FCC that the Soli sensors operating in the spectrum band at higher power levels might have issues coexisting with other technologies. After discussions, Google and Facebook jointly told the FCC in September that they agreed the sensors could operate at higher than currently allowed power levels without interference but at lower levels than previously proposed by Google.

Facebook told the FCC in September that it expected a “variety of use cases to develop with respect to new radar devices, including Soli.”