May 19, 2022


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Ripple: Google showcases new products with Soli technology – a futuristic smart display with a proximity sensor


Google has been researching radar technology for many years Solos, which was recently renamed Ripple and will be used in many projects in the future. Now a small preview has been given of how Solos or Ripple will be used in the future. Unfortunately, the options are still very limited and it seems that Google is not moving forward with the technology.

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Soli had an interesting experience for nearly eight years, but she didn’t get out of this situation for long. Based on radar technology, the goal was to aggregate the possibilities into a small chip and recognize both approach and movement. Just like the classic radar used to detect planes and ships, but on a much smaller scale and with more accurate detection.

Soli was first used on the Pixel 4a, where it was hailed as a major innovation. However, in the end, it was only the extended proximity sensor that could only recognize large grazing areas by hand. This might be interesting, but my Samsung Galaxy S3 was actually able to do this using much simpler technology. It was later found in the Nest Thermostat and today Soli is in the current generation of the Nest Hub smart display, but there’s not much to wonder about there either.

Google has now commented on how it wants to use the technology in future products. And it turns out what has been seen for many years: the device, in this case a smart display not yet available in this model, reacts to the user’s approach and changes the view.

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The smart display displays the current temperature or similar information in large font, making it easy to see at a distance from across the room. Closer to the screen, there are more details, a smaller size for the font and elements. This is undoubtedly very useful, but in the end it is just an advanced proximity sensor. Technically, one hasn’t moved a single step forward and is far from recognizing subtle movements. You want to recognize the handshake in later products, but not the fingers or odd shapes. Research videos that can distinguish individual fruit types and size from one another (just as an example) were much more advanced at the time.

It remains to be seen if Google can get something more out of these limited technical capabilities. I think solos as such will not be developed anymore, but will be left as is. Once Soli detects someone approaching, you can of course activate the camera (if available and not covered) and see more details accordingly. Similar to facial recognition on smartphones.


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