Rick Osterloh says Google is ‘firmly committed to building hardware’ and that Soli gestures will return

Google’s senior vice president of Devices & Services opened and closed Launch Night In. Rick Osterloh also posted written remarks where he affirmed Google’s commitment to “building hardware for the long term,” while also noting in an interview that Soli is coming back in the future.

Like in past years, Osterloh summarized the theme for Launch Night In/Made by Google 2020. In addition to beating the annual drum of being helpful, Google highlighted how this year’s products are “more affordable too.”

We’re firmly committed to building hardware for the long term and proud of the progress we’ve made to grow our family of products, despite the challenges 2020 has brought.

In comparison, Google in 2019 looked to the future with “ambient computing” and creating hardware that doesn’t “[intrude] on your life.”

We think technology can be even more useful when computing is anywhere you need it, always available to help you. Your devices fade into the background, working together with AI and software to assist you throughout your day. We call this ambient computing.  

One feature that contributed to last year’s theme was Soli radar and Motion Sense gestures on the Pixel 4. This lets users wave above the phone to play/pause and skip tracks, as well as dismiss calls and alarms.

Absent on this year’s flagship phone, Rick Osterloh told The Verge today that “they’ll be used in the future.” Soli started as an experimental project within ATAP, and Google has spent many years researching and miniaturizing radar. It has positioned those air gestures as an up-and-coming interaction method for controlling devices.

As such, it makes sense that Google isn’t done with the technology yet. Osterloh’s comment interestingly does not reference mobile devices or face unlock. The inclusion of the former on phones goes hand-in-hand to speeding up the latter biometric security method.

Meanwhile, an FCC filing suggests that Soli will be appearing on an upcoming Nest thermostat. A wired device would not have power constraints like on a phone and is closer to the original demo of radar gestures on a smart speaker.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com