According to 9to5Google, the Google Pixel 4 could feature Google’s Project Soli sensing technology. This would allow users to control the phone through the use of subtle, fine hand gestures. The project comes from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) in-house technology incubator and was introduced back in 2015. The technology uses radar in order to track “micro motions” of the hand. A video released back in 2015 imagines a smartwatch and a smart speaker being controlled using hand gestures. The same video showed how a tablet user could select the color used for a drawing app using these hand gestures. We could see how this could be applied to the navigation of a smartphone UI. Users could also manage the volume or power controls on a Pixelb by using certain gestures.
At Google I/O in 2016, the company showed live demonstrations that were recorded on video. In one, a smartwatch starts to display messages based on how the user’s hand moves closer to the device. The possibilities are endless, and the fact that the radar allows precise movements to be tracked and recorded means that users could have amazing control over their phone. Of course, this is a rumor, but it is an exciting one.
Earlier this year, the FCC approved Project Soli, which was described in the documentation as a way “to enable touchless control of device functions or features, which can benefit users with mobility, speech, and tactile impairments.” While the FCC approved a lower peak power limit than what Google was asking for, the agency gave the company a waiver that allows it to operate at higher power levels than it currently allows.
Now would be the time for Google to integrate Project Soli into the new Pixel models
The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are expected to be introduced this coming October and it certainly seems that the line is going to have some major design changes. Renders of the Pixel 4 reveal that the single rear camera found on Pixel handsets since the beginning will be replaced by a dual camera setup. And these cameras will be housed in a square module found in the upper left-hand corner on the back of the device, very similar to what we’ve seen on renders of the Apple iPhone 11. And there is talk that the Pixel 4 will not have any type of fingerprint scanner on board leading to speculation that the phone will feature a secure facial recognition system similar to Apple’s Face ID. Google will reportedly employ five front-facing sensors on the Pixel 4, another indication that a secure 3D mapping system will be found on the handset.
Google’s Project Soli technology could be used in the Pixel 4
With these changes, integrating Project Soli into the Pixel 4 line would make sense. Google has had a few years to fine-tune the technology and come up with some features that could really differentiate the Pixel line from its rivals. The Pixel 4 will also feature the Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform and we could see a small 50% bump in memory to 6GB from the current 4GB. Storage could start at 128GB with a larger 256GB configuration available, compared to the 64GB and 128GB that Google offers now. If Project Soli chips are found in the Pixel 4, we could see a decent jump in battery capacity. After all, it is going to take some energy to run a radar-based gesture system that will always be on. Currently, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL sport 2915mAh and 3430mAh batteries respectively.
As for pricing, the Pixel 3 starts at $799 while the Pixel 3 XL is priced at $899 and up. If Google beefs up the line, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Pixel 4 starts at $899 with the Pixel 4 XL priced at $999 and up. The good news is that the Pixels have traditionally been the subject of many deals over the course of a year.