Project Soli: All you need to know about the revolutionary Google Pixel 4 sensor

ByNiki Jones 2019-08-17 1125

For almost 5 years, Google has been working on Soli. It is a system capable of controlling a device by gestures. According to rumors, this solution should be present on Pixel 4. Let's see what this sensor is capable of.

Project Soli 

Project Soli is one of Google's most ambitious projects for smartphones and other connected objects. Created by a team from the Google Advanced Technology and Project, Soli could make its debut on Pixel 4 and open the door to new possibilities to control his smartphone.

But its operation and its utility are still mysterious for many people. Let's see together what is capable of this chip named Soli.

A miniature radar?

The primary purpose of this Project Soli is to allow the user to control their device without even touching it. Supervised by the well-known scientist Ivan Poupyrev, Soli had his first steps in being a chip the size of a pizza box. In 2015, it was only the size of an SD card.

Its official dimensions are exactly 8 mm wide by 10 mm high: a tiny chip considering what it can do. It contains a sensor and different antennas to send radio waves.



Soli's chip works like a radar. She will send radio waves with the antennas to then read and interpret our gestures thanks to the sensor.

The emitted waves will collide with our hands and, in this way, the sensor will understand how are arranged our fingers and our palm, but also the gestures we make and thus allow to turn this into actions on the device.

Project Soli 

What uses?

Soli has several logical actions to perform certain actions, such as sticking his thumb and forefinger to click a button, or sliding his thumb over the index to scroll a page, and so on.

Project Soli 

In addition to understanding gestures, Soli is able to recognize her environment. An experiment conducted earlier this year by the University of St. Andrews in Scotland showed that the chip was able to count the number of cards that were placed on the sensor or to read the shapes of stacked Lego bricks. on the same sensor.

So we can say that this technology could be used for much more than simple gestures on a smartphone, imagine a face recognition system that can compete with Apple's Face ID is perhaps not such a far-fetched idea.

Soli could also be used as a presence sensor to turn off the screen or turn it on depending on whether you look at it or not. This kind of features already exist on some smartphones, but with a chip as accurate, it would be even more optimized.

Originally thought of as ideal for connected watches, it is increasingly seen as an advantage for smartphones, but also for other objects such as speakers or televisions to remove the remote!

Imagine also that the chip works with a photo sensor for an even more optimal object tracking during video capture, for the depth calculation of a portrait mode or for augmented reality by using it as a Kinect on the Xbox.

A first for the general public on Pixel 4?

According to rumors, the first consumer device to integrate this Project Soli will be the Google Pixel 4  - and its larger version,  the Pixel 4 XL. Its supposed design shows indeed a not completely borderless screen with a rather impressive front when we see what the competition offers. We know that it will serve the front camera, the speaker, but also an unknown sensor.

Pixel 4 

This is where the rumors surfaced, this sensor would not it be just the chip Soli? Over time, this theory has become more and more credible. To the point that in the beta of Android 10 Q, lines of code refer to a "sensor of presence" that could well refer to our subject of the day.

But nothing is confirmed, for now, it will surely wait until the officialization of the smartphone by Google next October at the conference "Made by Google."

So are we witnessing a revolution or a flop from Google? Only time - and a test of the chip in real conditions - will tell us.

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