• Dante Montovano

Will Google dominate the smartphone industry with radar technology?

Updated: Feb 15, 2019

A decade ago, Apple introduced the first mainstream Multi-touch display with the release of the iPhone. The Multi-touch display attributed to the success of the iPhone and enabled Apple to surpass competitors (like BlackBerry) in the smartphone market. In doing so, Apple brought the first touchscreen smartphone to market. They used one simple trick—removing the keyboard; thus giving iPhone users an adaptive user interface.

Many generations of the iPhone have thrived utilizing a Multi-touch display. In fact, Apple holds several patents for the technology.

Since the rise of the iPhone, investors and stakeholders of Apple speculated as to how competitors would advance in the smartphone market.

Today, Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects team (ATAP) is working on something called Project Soil. Project Soil allows a user to interact with an interface in different methods without using a single standard controller or navigation restricted by the device. The very same idea that was behind the success of the iPhone’s Multi-touch display.

The biggest difference between Project Soil and Multi-touch is that Project Soil does not require the user to physically touch the device. Project Soil allows users to control an interface using gesture-tracking detected by radar.

As of January 1st 2019, Google received approval from the FCC to continue research on Project Soil.

Google Project Soil
See how Project Soil detects gestures using a radar.

When it comes to what Google could do with this type of technology, the possibilities are endless. Overall, this could be a major game changer across all devices and could cause a serious pivot in the smartphone industry. Currently, gesture-tracking is not a new idea. Most VR / AR technology utilizes some type of gesture tracking. A manufacturer has yet to build a gesture-tracking component that is compact enough to work properly with a day-to-day device; making gesture-tracking technology somewhat clunky. If Google was to integrate Project Soil with the Google Pixel, this could threaten Apple’s current market standing in the smartphone industry.