Google has gotten the green light from the FCC to continue work on one of its big projects.
"We find that the Soli sensors, when operating under the waiver conditions specified herein, pose minimal potential of causing harmful interference to other spectrum users and uses of the 57-64 GHz frequency band, including for the earth exploration satellite service (EESS) and the radio astronomy service (RAS)," the FCC wrote in its order. "We further find that grant of the waiver will serve the public interest by providing for innovative device control features using touchless hand gesture technology."
Project Soli is a part of Google ATAP, aka Advanced Technologies and Projects, a group that works on experimental efforts. Google's Project Ara modular smartphone was a part of ATAP.
Soli uses miniature radar and electromagnetic waves to track your hand an allow you to use gestures to control a device. For example, you can press an invisible button by tapping your thumb and index fingers together, grab and pull a virtual slider, or rub your thumb and index finger together to turn an invisible dial. And while the controls are virtual, you're getting physical feedback through your fingers touching one another.
The Project Soli chip includes the sensor and antenna array into a package that measures 8mm x 10mm in size. Google says that the chip consumes little energy, its not affected by light, and works through "most materials". Soli could be useful in many different applications, including for those with mobility or speech impairments.
In its request to the FCC, Google says that the previous rules regarding power levels were too restrictive for Soli's intended functions, which resulted in dissatisfaction due to missed motions and fewer effective interactions. Now Google will be able to operate Soli at higher power levels in order to try and get interacting with Soli closer to Google's vision.