Back in 2016, Google teased a bit of tech that appears almost magical at a glance. Instead of using cameras or accelerometers to make motion control happen, engineers from Google's experimental Advanced Technology and Projects division turned to extremely short-distance radar with fantastic results. At least in a demo setting, anyway.
Now Google's got the all-clear to explore the idea in a bit more detail. The FCC, with a regulatory scope that includes all manner of radio waves, to allow its "Soli" tech to operate the 57-64-GHz frequency band, a relatively high-power range shared by satellites that communicate with each other and with Earth. Wi-Fi signals and the radio waves your phone uses to connect to the internet, by comparison, generally live in the 5-GHz range and lower.
The FCC justifies its waiver citing that Google's tech doesn't pose a serious risk of disrupting the way other licensed operators already use the frequency band and furthermore that granting Google this license will serve the public good seeing as how the extremely precise motion tracking tech could "benefit users with mobility, speech and tactile impairments."
The other detail of the waver, crucial if Google plans to build Soli tech into actual consumer devices like smartwatches and the like, is that the FCC will allow for gadgets of this type to operate on airplanes after Google successfully illustrated that planes full of Soli device users on the busiest travel day in 2017 would not generate enough radio noise to interfere with satellites.
In addition to fine-tuned motion controls such as Google demonstrated in its initial reveal back in 2016, the radar approach has also shown promise . Of course it will likely be years before any sort of Soli tech actually gets backed into a gadget you can buy if it ever does at all, but the FCC's waiver does mean that there's a chance it will be.