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May 29, 2015

Google’s Project Soli and Project Jacquard want to bring touch controls to everything

by John_A

project soliGoogle has announced two new projects as part of ATAP. These two projects are called Soli and Jacquard, and they’re the first steps towards making everything in your life respond to touch touch gestures, like taps and swipes, just like your smartphone.

The thought behind these two initiatives is that our hands are incredibly versatile and easy to use. That part’s pretty obvious, considering they’re attached to our arms and we get plenty of practice twisting, turning, and manipulating objects every day. That’s part of the reason why smartphones and tablets have done so well, and why most new devices incorporate some kind of touch screen; they’re easy to manipulate, and it’s almost second-nature at this point.

With Project Soli, Google has developed small radar sensors that detect hand motions and gestures. These small sensors make your hand the interface, regardless of where you are. Simulating a twisting motion, like you’d do for a knob, could theoretically change your stereo’s volume, or simulating pushing a button could start your microwave without you actually having to touch the device. The possibilities for that kind of technology are enormous and could really revolutionize how we interact with objects in our day-to-day lives.

Project Jacquard is aimed at a more particular target, specifically clothing. Google already takes the wearable tech business seriously, but with Jacquard, they want to turn clothing into something that can be touched and interacted with like a smart device. Engineers have developed “smart yarn” that feels like any other kind of yarn your clothes would be made out of, but it can respond to touch and other gestures. The end goal is to shrink the components necessary for Jacquard down to the point where they’ll be small enough to seamlessly integrate (pun intended) into the manufacturing process for clothing.

While these are both very, very new technologies that won’t be hitting the mainstream anytime soon, there is a ton of potential from both projects. Google has been hard at work trying to incorporate their technology and software into every facet of our lives, and this is just the next step towards making that happen.

You can find the videos for both Project Soli and Project Jacquard below, and you’ll find the rest of our Google I/O 2015 coverage here.

Project Jacquard

Project Soli

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