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2 Jan, 2019 14:15

Google’s futuristic radar-based hand sensors get US approval, despite interference concerns

Google’s futuristic radar-based hand sensors get US approval, despite interference concerns

Google has been granted permission to roll out wearable hand motion sensors that allow users to swipe, scroll and click their devices through thin air. Concern remains that the devices could interfere with other electronics.

The sensor technology, named Project Soli, has been in development since 2015. Worn on a user’s wrist, it allows the user to scroll, swipe, click and control their devices with simple hand gestures in the air. Users can click a virtual button between their thumb and index finger, or turn a virtual dial by rubbing these fingers together.

A radar beam tracks the movement of the user’s hand, enabling precise control – just like the futuristic computer interface used by Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report’. Google also claims that the technology will be integrated into phones, personal computers, and vehicles.

While Cruise’s theatrical swiping was set in the year 2054, Google’s real-world version could be rolled out much sooner, after the Federal Communications Commission signed off on the project on Monday, Reuters reported.

Also on rt.com Google wins lawsuit, can continue to use facial recognition tech on users without consent

Until now, the rollout had been put on hold by the FCC, as Soli’s radar operates at a far higher frequency band than currently allowed by regulations. Facebook had complained to the FCC that these higher power levels could interfere with other devices nearby, and the two companies reached an agreement with the agency in September to allow the sensors to operate at a higher power level than allowed, but lower than that originally proposed by Google.

Concerns remain over the devices’ potential to interfere with other electronics, however. As such, they can be used on aircraft, but must comply with Federal Aviation Administration rules – and likely will have to remain powered off during flights.

The devices’ frequency band of 57 - 64 GHz also falls within the 24 - 86 GHz band used by 5G networks, soon to be active throughout the US. It is unclear whether this overlap could cause interference.

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