WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Google unit of Alphabet Inc. won approval from US regulators to implement a radar based motion detection device known as Project Soli.
Google ads can be seen at Google headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York, New York, USA, December 19, 2018. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Monday in an order that it would allow Google to relinquish the Soli sensors at higher power levels than currently permitted. The FCC said that the sensors can also be used on board aircraft.
The FCC said the decision "serves the public interest by providing innovative device control functions using touchless hand gesture technology."
A Google spokeswoman did not immediately make a comment on Tuesday on New Year's Day.
The FCC said that the Soli sensor captures motion in a three-dimensional space using a radar beam for the touchless operation of functions or functions that can benefit users with mobility or speech problems.
Google says that the sensor can enable users to press an invisible button between the thumb and index fingers or a virtual dial that rotates by rubbing a thumb against the index finger.
The company says that "although these controls are virtual, the interactions feel physical and responsive" because feedback is generated by the haptic feeling that fingers touch.
Google says that the virtual tools can approach the precision of natural human hand movements and that the sensor can be embedded in wearables, telephones, computers and vehicles.
In March, Google asked the FCC to operate its short range of interactive motion-sensing Soli radar in the 57- to 64-GHz frequency band with power levels that are compliant with the standards of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.
Facebook Inc. expressed concern at the FCC that the Soli sensors operating at higher power levels in the spectrum band may have problems alongside other technologies.
After discussions, Google and Facebook jointly informed the FCC in September that they agreed that the sensors could operate at a higher level than currently allowed, without interference, but at a lower level than previously proposed by Google.
Facebook told the FCC in September that it expected a "variety of use cases to develop with regard to new radar devices, including Soli."
The Soli devices can be used on board aircraft, but still have to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations for portable electronic devices.
Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis