In an order made on Dec. 31, the FCC said it would grant Google to operate Soli sensors at higher power levels than currently allowed. The commissions also said these sensors may be operated aboard aircraft. The decision "will serve the public interest by providing for innovative device control features using touchless hand gesture technology."
According to Google, Soli are advanced sensors that allow users to press an imaginary button between their thumb and index finger, or rub them together to turn or twist a virtual dial. The controls are all virtual, Google makes clear, but the interactions feel "physical and responsive," in large part because even though there are no physical controls available, feedback is generated by the haptic sensation of the fingers touching.
Google offers a number of potential implementations for Project Soli. For example, they can be used to approximate the precision of natural human hand motion. What's more, the Soli sensors can be integrated into wearable devices, smartphones, computers, and even vehicles, as Reuters reports.
Facebook Comes Into The Picture
In March, the search company approached the commission to allow its motion sensing radars to operate in the 57 to 64 GHz frequency band at power levels in line with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute's standards. At one point, Facebook raised concerns over the sensors potentially affecting other technologies present. Following discussions, both companies eventually told the FCC months later that the initial concerns were negligible, and Soli can operate without interfering — but at lower levels than those Google had proposed originally.
It's not just Google that stands to benefit from Soli sensors. Other companies, such as Facebook itself, might see a ton of potential for the radars, and the social media company said in September that it's looking at a variety of use cases involving Soli.
That being said, Google still needs to follow Federal Aviation Administration rules during Soli's aircraft operations.
Not much about Soli is known in the public, however. This should perhaps come as no surprise since the project is certainly less marketable than, say, Google's consumer-facing products. It's likely a foundation for what would become mainstream products in the future, not something to be sold standalone. In any case, make sure to check back with Tech Times as we learn more.