The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in an order late on Monday that it would let Google operate the Soli sensors at higher power levels than currently allowed. The FCC said the sensors can also be operated aboard aircraft.
The FCC said the decision “will serve the public interest by providing for innovative device control features using touchless hand gesture technology.”
The FCC said the Soli sensor captures motion in a three-dimensional space using a radar beam to enable touchless control of functions or features that can benefit users with mobility or speech impairments.
A Google Spokesperson did not comment on this on Tuesday since it was New Year’s Eve. according to Google, this sensor enables users to interact with devices virtually by pressing an invisible button by pressing their thumb against their thumb or turn a dial by rubbing the thumb against the index finger. The company says that “even though these controls are virtual, the interactions feel physical and responsive” as feedback is generated by the haptic sensation of fingers touching.
In March, Google asked the FCC to allow its short-range Soli radar to operate in the 57- to 64-GHz frequency band at power levels consistent with European Telecommunications Standards Institute standards.
Facebook raised concerns with the FCC that the Soli sensors operating in the spectrum band at higher power levels might have issues coexisting with other technologies like producing interference in the communications system.
After discussions, Google and Facebook jointly told the FCC in September that they agreed the sensors could operate at higher than currently allowed power levels without interference but at lower levels than previously proposed by Google. Facebook told the FCC in September that it expected a “variety of use cases to develop with respect to new radar devices, including Soli.”
Even after the approval of Soli devices being operated on aircraft, thee devices must comply with Federal Aviation Administration rules governing portable electronic devices.