When touch screen phones and devices debuted in the markets in the 2000s, people and techmakers were extremely excited, for it was simple and elegant technology which simplified devices and of course, our lives. Phones and tablets got virtual keyboards and the rest of the journey to complicated graphic interfaces from thereon is no secret to any of us. It is surely one of the biggest and quickest developments in our times.
But one question has haunted inventors and consumers both alike – “What after touch?” The realisation of touch enabled devices was so sophisticated and huge that it overshadowed most developments that came after it.
However, the answer comes to any of us intuitively when we think about the shortcomings of touch enabled technology.
Let me ask you, “How well would a blind person handle touch devices? Or perhaps physically handicapped people?” or quite simply “What if you want to operate your phone which your hands are dirty but you’re mute and can’t use voice recognition?” There are many situations where having an alternate technology would help.
One way to resolve these sticky situations is to enable gadgets to respond to gestures.
Gestures come instinctively to all humans and every person, by his capacity, can make gestures. Technology which identifies these promises to be the next Big Thing.
Google ATAP, among others, has been quick to realise this and initiated the Project Soli. It is a new sensing technology which uses miniature radar to detect toothless gestures. Soli is a purpose-built sensor to track the motion of the human hand.
The sensor tracks ubiquitous human gestures. Here are examples-
The chip Soli uses incorporate the entire sensor and antenna into an ultra-compact 8mm x 10mm package. The notion of Virtual Tools is key to Soli interaction. Virtual Tools are gestures that mimic the familiar interactions with physical tools. This makes it easier to communicate, learn and remember Soli interactions. A button can be pressed by squeezing two fingers and a slider can be used by pressing two fingers together and sliding your hand.
Feedback is generated by the haptic sensation of fingers touching each other. Without the constraints of physical controls, virtual tools can undertake the fluidity and precision of our natural hand motion.
HOW IT WORKS:
Soli works by emitting electromagnetic waves in a broad beam over some space. Objects within this space scatter the energy from the waves, reflecting some fraction back towards the radar antenna Properties like energy, frequency shift and time delay of the reflected signal specify to the antenna the characteristics of the object such as size, shape, orientation, velocity and distance.
One of the best features of Soli is that it is not affected by light conditions. This, along with its energy efficiency make it an impactful technology and beautiful concept which can transform the future of human-machine interactions and make it easy for all to operate devices.