Advanced Hand Gesture Recognition Sensor, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Facebook, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Google, Google ATAP, Google's 'Project Soli', Google's Advanced Technology and Projects, Project Soli, Telecom Infra Project (TIP), Touchless technology, Wearable devices
Google has taken its Project Soli cause to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), requesting an authorization to operate its fixed and mobile field disturbance sensors in the 60 GHz band at a different power level than what’s currently allowed.
– Soli is a new sensing technology that uses miniature radar to detect touchless gesture interactions.
When it comes to the internet of things, Google has thrown its hat in the ring like any good tech giant, and its looking to advance a sensing technology that uses miniature radar to detect touchless gesture interactions. Billed as “the only interface you’ll need,” Project Soli uses radar for motion tracking of the human hand. As Google explains, “We’re creating a ubiquitous gesture interaction language that will allow people to control devices with a simple, universal set of gestures. We envision a future in which the human hand becomes a universal input device for interacting with technology.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allows operation of “mobile radars in short-range devices for interactive motion sensing” within the 60 GHz band, the unlicensed millimeter wave band generally used only by WiGig systems and a small number of industrial and scientific stakeholders—but only at power levels that Google said are too restrictive for optimum use of the sensors.
Field testing of device prototypes within the currently allowed power levels showed that blind spots can occur as close as 5 cm to the sensor location. “Low power levels lead to user dissatisfaction from missed motions, the perception of intermittent operation and ultimately fewer effective interactions,” Google argued.
Instead, the internet giant wants to rely on a European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standard known as EN 305 550.1 (PDF), which defines the conducted power, mean Power Spectral Density (PSD), Effective Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP) and mean EIRP consistent parameters that Google said would allow optimization, while avoiding interference with other devices in the band.
It sweetened the pot in its request (PDF) by tying its waiver request to the FCC’s loftier goals, saying it would “encourage the provision of new technologies and services to the public” consistent with Section 7 of the Communications Act of 1934, align with the Commission’s intent to allow radars to “detect hand gestures very close to a device to control the device without touching it,” and advance the Commission’s efforts to harmonize its regulations and keep pace with global standards.
The Soli chip incorporates the entire sensor and antenna array in a compact package that’s smaller than a quarter, and it can be embedded in wearables, phones, computers, cars and IoT devices. The applications will rely on “Virtual Tools,” which are gestures that mimic familiar interactions with physical tools. Imagine an invisible button between your thumb and index fingers—you can press it by tapping your fingers together. Other interactions could include a virtual dial that you turn by rubbing thumb against index finger, or a virtual slider that users can grab and pull in the air. Feedback, meanwhile, is generated by the haptic sensation of fingers touching each other.
Google isn’t the only one eyeing the 60 GHz band these days, and the FCC’s decision in the waiver request will likely have ramifications beyond Project Soli. The Facebook-led Telecom Infra Project (TIP), for instance, is actively working on creating networks and reference solutions for the band; it used Mobile World Congress 2018 to showcase its progress.
Soli: ubiquitous gesture sensing with millimeter wave radar (SIGGRAPH)
Video above: This paper presents Soli, a new, robust, high-resolution, low-power, miniature gesture sensing technology for human-computer interaction based on millimeter-wave radar. We describe a new approach to developing a radar-based sensor optimized for human-computer interaction, building the sensor architecture from the ground up with the inclusion of radar design principles, high temporal resolution gesture tracking, a hardware abstraction layer (HAL), a solid-state radar chip and system architecture, interaction models and gesture vocabularies, and gesture recognition. We demonstrate that Soli can be used for robust gesture recognition and can track gestures with sub-millimeter accuracy, running at over 10,000 frames per second on embedded hardware.
Watch the video about what developers have already developed
Project Soli has developed a new interaction sensor using radar technology. The sensor can track sub-millimeter motions at high speed and accuracy. It fits onto a chip, can be produced at scale and built into small devices and everyday objects.