2019 has been a great year in terms of smartphone technology innovation. We saw the bourgeoning of triple rear cameras this year, along with better infinity display screens that changed the way smartphones looked forever (and let’s not forget the foldable phones). And it seems like there’s a new smartphone technology that’s coming our way now: The radar-based hand detection systems Google just confirmed for its upcoming devices. But the question remains – Will this be yet another one of those new techs which look incredible in marketing videos but turn out to be not so useful in the real world, or will it really be a life-changing tech tool in our everyday lives?
Is Radar Based Technology Ready for the Real World?
Google recently confirmed the radar-based hand detection systems feature on the upcoming Pixel 4 phone on its official blog. Tech enthusiasts have debated for long whether such a system will actually be incredible or ineffectual, especially after a similar attempt from LG failed miserably. Moreover, the extent to which the technology will be usable isn’t known yet either. Will it really transform the way we use phones for good, or will it just turn out to be yet another failed marketing gimmick?
At this point, the fact that the technology is ready for the real world is just as possible as it turning out to be more sparkle than substance. However, you never know what it could be with Google, given their track record at innovation. But there are still a few key aspects that will be deciding factors of this technology’s success.
Unlike LG’s system that used a camera sensor, Google’s runs on radar microchip that has been under development since 2015 by the Motorola-born Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. Powered by the radar chip, the system can extract specific gesture information even at much higher frame rates, which means it will be able to detect even the minutest of hand movements with better precision.
LG’s system was only effective if your hands were exactly 4 inches away from the phone. But if you have to be so close to the screen anyway, what’s the point of the hands-free technology? However, it has been reported that the Pixel 4’s radar system will be able to precisely detect gestures from up to 15 meters (49 feet) away!
Ability to detect through materials
Google’s ATAP group has said that Pixel 4’s radar technology will be able to accurately detect hand gestures even through fabrics. This means that the feature could work even through pockets, bags, purses, etc.
Even if Google manages to get across these three functional challenges, there still remains the big question – What exactly will we be able to do with the technology? LG’s version of it only allowed us to select from 2 pre-set applications, and turn the volume up/down. However, Google has said that you’ll be able to skip songs, snooze alarms, and silence phone calls, etc. too. Moreover, it has also said that these actions are just the first few of many to come, and the Motion Sense will evolve and become better with time.