By far, my favorite moments of I/O 16 happened on the ATAP stage. Watching a Google ATAP presentation is like living in the future. ATAP is Google’s “future” department. They make crazy things happen in crazy timeframes.
It’s like one big internal competition: How can we shake stuff up even more?
Let’s take a look at the three big projects and what they might have in store for us techies in the near future.
Your hands are the only interface you’ll need. That’s Soli’s tagline. Soli uses radar to pick up fine gestures that the user can perform to interact with different software interfaces. Wow. What a sentence.
Obvious hurdles to this technology are size, power, and processing. The project’s workers continued to decrease the size, reduce power consumption, and allowed the chip to run flawlessly with the processing power of a smartwatch.
Their demo unit detected how far away one’s hand is from the device. Depending on that, the user can use a flicking gesture (think of spinning a top) to cycle through different aspects of the interface. With the user’s hand far away, they can see information at a glance. The closer it moved in, the more information there was to control.
Project leaders say that this can have limitless implications. They even demoed Soli in a speaker, with gestures to play/pause and skip tracks. The way the Soli team was talking, they want to put this tech everywhere and I’m excited to see what developers can find use cases for with it!
Ever want to touch your clothes and control your phone? Soon, you can. Project Jacquard brings tech into textiles. This allows different user inputs to take place in a normal piece of fabric. They can connect to your phone and do various things like navigate, control music playback, and answer calls.
What impressed me most is that Project Jacquard has teamed up with Levi’s and is putting a commuter jacket into the market next Spring. We will see this dream tech become a reality in the near future. We’ll be able to buy it, wear it, and test it’s limitations! All while looking pretty cool doing it ?.
I think I’m most skeptical about this one. I just find myself hard pressed to be using my clothing as direct input into my smartphone, but then again, I’m not very active, so maybe the appeal is elsewhere.
I saved my favorite news for last. For the past several years, Google has been teasing, demoing and alpha-ing Ara, a modular phone. The idea is to have a baseplate with standard sized slots for modules that can be developed by anyone to do almost anything and be swapped out at any time. Check out the video below for all the hot swapping action:
[Video via YouTube]
“OK Google, eject camera.” Gives me shudders every time! Can you imagine carrying your Logos library on a module? A/V modules? Larger camera modules? Battery modules? Glucometer modules? The possibilities are seriously endless. Plus, this technology claims to be “future proof”, allowing future modules to fit current frames and vice versa. This could bring the cost of a complete off-contract phone down considerably, benefitting the end-users and developers.
Google’s been known to shake things up, but how do you feel about these technologies?
What great ideas do you have to utilize this technology?
Are you as excited as I am about the future of tech, or is it intimidating?
Let us know in the comments below!