WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc.'s Google device won approval from US regulators to distribute a radar-based motion sensor called Project Soli.
Google Signature is headquartered in Manhattan in New York City, New York, USA, December 1
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in a late-Monday order it would provide Google a waiver to operate the Soli sensors at a higher power level than is currently permitted. The FCC said the sensors can also be operated on board aircraft.
The FCC said the decision "will serve the public interest by providing innovative device control capabilities using non-contact hand motion technology."
A spokesman from Google did not comment immediately on Tuesday with reference to New Year's Day.
The FCC said that the Soli sensor captures motion in a three-dimensional space using a radar beam to allow touchless control of functions or functions that may benefit users with mobility or speech disturbance.
Google says the sensor can allow users to press an invisible button between the thumb and index fingers or a virtual dial that turns on by rubbing the thumb against the index finger.
The company says that "even though these controls are virtual, the interaction seems physical and responsive" as feedback is generated by the haptic feeling of the fingers touching.
Google says the virtual tools can approximate the precision of natural human hand movement, and the sensor can be built into wear, telephones, computers and vehicles.
In March, Google asked the FCC to allow interactive motion-sensitive Soli radar to operate in the 57 to 64 GHz frequency band at power levels that conform to European standards for telecommunications standards.
Facebook Inc raised concerns with the FCC that the Soli sensors operating in the frequency band at higher power levels may have problems that exist with other technologies.
After discussions, Google and Facebook jointly told the FCC in September that they agreed that the sensors could operate at higher than current power levels without interference, but at lower levels than previously suggested by Google.
Facebook told the FCC in September that it was expecting a "series of uses to develop with respect to new radar units, including Soli."
The Soli units can be operated aboard aircraft but still have to comply with Federal Aviation Administration rules for portable electronic devices.
Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis