Google has secured the US regulatory approval to go ahead with its tiny radar-based motion sensor system called Project Soli. The company has been working on this project since 2015. It is a new technology that will enable users to control their smart devices simply by making gestures in the air.

Usually, a company does not require special permission or a waiver to work on projects. However, Google’s Project Soli is an exception as it operates on higher power levels than permitted by the FCC.

Project Soli gets federal approval

Google began working on Project Soli back in 2015 under its experimental division. The project has since seen a number of technological breakthroughs, like being able to identify objects and reducing the radar sensor’s power consumption. Now with approval from the FCC, it is set to take another big step forward.

The FCC has approved Google to continue working on Project Soli at higher power levels for better accuracy. The proposed development will potentially enable users to turn on their smart speaker by moving a hand closer to it or turn music on or off with a flick of the fingers. No need to tap on the screen or press any button. Gestures like rubbing your thumb and index finger together will let you control them. The technology also finds its use on other smart devices like smartwatches.

Google showed a prototype of the project in 2016, but it had trouble noticing user gestures, or picking up motions. The company attributed these problems to the low power levels it had to operate on due to the FCC restrictions. In March 2018, Google applied for a waiver from the FCC, which was granted on December 31.

Facebook tried to block Google’s move saying that the higher radar levels could mess with existing technology. However, the two companies eventually reached a compromise and Google was granted the permission after it agreed to lower power levels than what it had first proposed.

The approval could open a door to a future with interactive touchless smart speakers and displays, a technology that adds more functionality to devices with tiny screens.