Whenever Soli has first introduced a few years ago, we were all fascinated, but the implementations in the few products where it has since appeared have been unimpressive. It’s not that the radar chip failed to deliver on its promises of presence recognition, gesture control, and sleep monitoring; rather, those restricted interactions didn’t fundamentally transform how we manage our gadgets, as Google may have intended. But now, due to a collaboration led by the Consumer Technology Association (the trade group behind CES), maybe it’s finally time for this radar technology to take off and achieve something spectacular with the assistance of a new API.
Ripple is the name of the initiative, and it has some major names behind it, including Google and Ford, as well as Blumio, a health technology startup. NXP, Infineon, and Texas Instruments are among the big semiconductor companies on board. An open radar API, the theory goes, will make it simpler for firms to create and manufacture products that use this technology. It may also spur the creation of third-party applications, particularly if suitable hardware begins to appear on various phones.
So far, Google has been the industry leader in terms of mobile radar. Its Soli chip initially appeared in the Pixel 4 and 4 XL a few years back, demonstrating that gesture detection could be done at all. It’s also utilised for sleep monitoring on the second-generation Nest Hub. But what are the other firms’ thoughts on radar’s potential applications?
Blumio, for example, is a health-tech business that uses radar (and, it seems, the Soli chip) to detect blood pressure without the need of a cuff. Radar will be used to detect minute changes on the skin’s surface. Then there’s Ford, which includes radar in certain of its models for adaptive cruise control. Autonomous technologies like blind-spot recognition, emergency steering and braking, and self-driving rely heavily on the automotive radar.
Chipmakers are at the heart of all of these consumer applications. The Soli chip was developed in collaboration with Google ATAP. In the automobile radar sector, all three chip manufacturers are market leaders.
So, what does this signify for Android as a whole? We could start seeing a lot more radar-based features in the future if we’re fortunate. Manufacturers of smartphones, tablets, and watches may be more inclined to include radar technology if they know they won’t have to create custom software to utilize it. And programmers may be more inclined to build radar applications if they know their software will be widely used.
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