Pixel 4 radar technology will soon become mainstream


Photo by Pixel 4

Pixel 4’s salt radar technology is back in the form of an open source API.
Photography: Sam Rutherford / Gizmodo

Google only quietly discovered the open-source API standard so-called Ripple based on Salt radar technology company. The radar was partly responsible for the weakest features of Google Pixel 4, but it’s also the way Google tracks sleep in the latest Nest Hub and opens the door to really interesting uses.

The API is for devices with frequency-modulirano ccontinuous-wave (or FMWC) sensors, which are also used in gadgets like smart sleep monitoring bulbs which Sengled announced at CES.

Google’s ATAP division, which also worked on Soli, stands behind this launch. Car manufacturer Ford and Blumio, a company working on blood pressure sensors, are the first consumer brands you can jump on with Ripple. Ford told The Verge it plans to test Ripple’s use as “advanced exterior radar” for its Co-Pilot360 driver assistance technology. Component manufacturers such as Texas Instruments, Infineon and NXP have also signed up to help with development.

Interestingly, the Association of Consumer Technologies (CTA), a trade organization behind CES, launches an incentive for companies to get involved. The CTA offers a wealth of documentation on getting started with Ripple, which means adoption is possible across the industry.

Opening Ripple to other developers is exciting because it is a relatively non-invasive technology that can be used in interesting ways. However, it took some time for Google to realize this. When Google launched Pixel 4 with Soli radar baked inside, it failed because it wasn’t the right place for technology. All the radar did at Pixel was that it allowed you to hands-free go through the music and quickly unlock the device. That didn’t change the game in the slightest.

Soli made more sense in the second generation Nest Hub, where Google uses it to enable sleep-monitoring from a wearable device. Radar can detect how deep you sleep and even help determine if you are snoring. It can also be used to track how people are moving around the room or how many people are in the building.

Another great attraction of Ripple is that radar tracking technology does not rely on a microphone or motion camera, making it easier to sell companies that want to produce products that are more privacy-conscious.. Ivan Poupyrev, Google’s ATAP Director of Engineering charged it as a technology that can help address “critical use cases in a manner that respects privacy”.

Amazon has also adopted radar-based monitoring, even from the FCC to make their own bedside device. It is unclear whether some companies will use radar for the better serve you ads, but anything is possible.


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