ProjectProject SoliClientGoogle ATAP

Designing feasible prototypes for Google’s new interaction sensor using radar technology


The Challenge

How to create interactions for a new technology triggered by human motions at various scales


The Result

Feasible prototypes and a documented toolkit for a new interaction sensor using radar technology

Our Expertise

  • Ideation
  • Interaction Design
  • AI & Machine Learning
  • Speculative Design
  • Data Analysis & Visualization
  • UX & UI Design


The Brief

In 2015 Google Advanced Technology and Projects, led by Ivan Poupyrev, developed a new sensing technology: Project Soli. Soli is a miniature radar that understands human motions at various scales: from your heartbeat to the movements of your body. It fits onto a chip, can be produced at scale and built into small devices and everyday objects.

Project Soli chip evolution © Goolge ATAP
Project Soli chip evolution © Goolge ATAP

We were brought in from the get-go and worked for over two years with many versions of the evolving sensor. We created feasible use cases and working prototypes using the chip. With the help of machine learning, we trained Soli to work with self-designed gesture sets. Our prototypes became proof of concept for product ideas and innovations.

At a later stage, we handled the full software development. We created the documentation of the Soli Dev Kit including demos and gesture kit explications.

The hand is the ultimate input device. It’s extremely precise, it’s extremely fast, and it’s very natural for us to use it.

DR. IVAN POUPYREV, Director of Engineering ATAP

Prototypes

Our data visualization expertise helped us analyze, visualize and understand how Soli works and make sense of its rich data for later prototypes

With this knowledge, we designed and developed several prototypes for different use-cases designing hands-on – with the various stages of the technology. This prototype utilizes Soli as an input device for controlling a map on a mobile phone. Through gestures, one can swipe through target points and zoom.

Further, we designed and developed a mini-game based on Soli: You control a paper plain with direct gestures of your hand, no controller needed.

Our team developed many more prototypes and visualizations. Finally, it shifted our focus to the Soli developer kit for which we created tutorials and documentation, accompanied by detailed illustrations and manuals.

These helped Google steer the innovation and build user interactions and experiences that just made sense, creating value from the remarkable invention of a tiny radar. Google integrated Soli in their mobile phone, the Google Pixel 4.

Credits

  • Project lead Dr. Ivan Poupyrev

  • Core team Nicholas Gillian, Hakim Raja, Erik Olson, Jaime Lien, Patrick Amihood and Emre Karagozler. Our day to day work has been guided by Carsten Schwesig and Fumi Yamazaki

  • In collaboration with Tim Gferer, Arturo Castro, Tomek Ness, Jochen Maria Weber, Sebastian An

See how we design data visualizations and interactive experiences across an ecosystem of devices, platforms, and physical objects.
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