Project Soli: New Tech On the Rise

By Michael Goldman and Devin Carlin


The Emergent Media Center is always looking at new technologies that can potentially improve the ease of access and functionality of our various projects. Our lab-techs were asked to keep an eye out on any upcoming technologies that they felt could really have a positive impact on the way the EMC interacts with its clients.

Devin Carlin, a lab-tech here at the EMC, felt particularly excited about a tech currently in development at Google called Project Soli. This project is essentially a chip the size of a fingernail that uses radar to detect precise movements of the user’s fingers when they are near the device. Google has demonstrated how this chip can be used as a form of user input to control menus on mobile devices.

Users would be able to brush their index finger across the tip of their thumb to scroll through lists, and then tap their thumb and forefinger together to select an item, as one example of its application.

What this technology allows for is the elimination of a major limitation developers face when creating apps or games for smart phones, the fact that the user’s fingers obscure parts of the screen when touching controls. Not only does this allow users to see the whole screen, it also allows for a much greater range of inputs since the designer no longer has to worry about having too many controls taking up screen space.

This has exciting implications on future projects for the Emergent Media Center. By utilizing this technology it will allow us to make interfaces more convenient and create new types of interfaces that would not be possible with touch or button input. Phone apps that we create can become more intuitive and can display greater amounts of information on their screens.

Given that one of the current goals of the EMC is to have our game BREAKAWAY be accessible via mobile technology, when Project Soli is fully developed in the future we could potentially implement it in order to add another layer of functionality and playability to the experience.

It will be a while before we start to see technology that incorporates Project Soli, but Devin feels that it will have a huge impact on the way we interact with our devices. The possible implications of this technology are endless, and we continue to search for projects like this one that can really make a positive difference in the future.