Inside Google’s plan to kill the touchscreen

minority report

Movies and TV shows give us a great way of visualizing how the future might turn out. They are not always on the money timewise (we’re currently living in the year the original “Blade Runner” was set), but they often give us glimpses of technologies that we might see at some point in the future. From the video calls in “Back to the Future 2” to the tablet like devices we’ve seen in hits like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Star Trek.” The movies showed us what could be possible and then real life delivered. We might be about to see another futuristic technology from the movies break into real life.

Google’s Project Soli has been approved by the Federal Communications Commission

Google first announced Project Soli four years ago. It was billed as a way to replace touchscreens with hand gesture control. Rather than having to tap away at our screens to control our smart devices, Project Soli should make it possible to simply move our fingers in a certain manner to tell our devices what to do. If you want to see what this could look like, check out the clip below from Minority Report.

Now, four years after Google’s initial announcement, the FCC has given Google the go-ahead to move forward with development of Project Soli. This means it might not be long before we start to see touchless control coming to our smart devices. The team behind Project Soli are looking to a future in which hand gestures rather than touchscreens are the primary method of control.

According to the Project Soli website, the technology uses radar-based sensors to detect and track your hand movements. “Soli is a purpose-built interaction sensor that uses radar for motion tracking of the human hand… We’re creating a ubiquitous gesture interaction language that will allow people to control devices with a simple, universal set of gestures.” The Soli chip is not much bigger than a micro sim card and the Soli team claim it can track, “sub-millimeter motion at high speeds with great accuracy.” It will pick up even tiniest of movements.

Image via: Google

To go with the technology, Soli is working on what it calls Virtual Tool Gestures. These are a number of gestures that will feel familiar to users for the tasks they perform. These include pressing a button, turning a dial, and adjusting a slider. Interestingly, these gestures utilize touch to provide feedback to our own brains rather than to the devices.

Image via: Google

We don’t have any information yet about when we can expect to see Soli enabled devices hitting the shops, but the announcement from the FCC tells us that they are coming. If everything on the Project Soli website is to be believed, this is exciting news. The tiny size of the Soli chips, the lack of moving parts, and low energy consumption make them perfect for all smart devices. To find out more information about Project Soli, click here.

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