Does Pixel Tablet use Soli Tech?
Best answer: No. While Soli technology is found across a number of Google devices, most notably the Pixel 4 smartphone, Google Nest Hub, and Google Nest Thermostat, it’s not found in the Google Pixel Tablet. Soli technology allows for recognizing human movements, which enables gesture controls for things like skipping songs, silencing an alarm, or even silencing an incoming call. But Pixel Tablet does not have it.
What to know about Soli technology
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Soli, introduced way back at Google I/O in 2015 as part of Google’s ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects), is a mini radar that can understand human motions, like your heartbeat and how your body moves.
Google uses this technology to enable things like gesture control for devices like its Nest Hub with sleep sensing, one of the best smart displays, Nest Thermostat to know when a human is in the room and adjust the temperature accordingly, the Pixel 4 smartphone, and Sandbox, which is currently being prototyped with Soli for integration by developers.
But the technology has the ability to be used in everything from wearables to phones, computers, cars, and other Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices.
The idea behind Soli is that it can understand non-verbal cues, creating a whole new type of interaction language. It can purportedly track your hand movements, for example, down to tiny movements, even at high speeds using electromagnetic waves. The chip itself consists of an 8 x 10mm chip with a sensor and antenna array.
Once a device has a Google Soli chip, it will be able to recognize a universal set of gestures called Virtual Tool Gestures. This includes actions like mimicking pressing a button between a thumb and index finger or rubbing these two fingers together to simulate turning a dial. The gestures are recognized in a variety of ways, including machine learning, raw radar data, common gestures, and pre-defined interactions.
The first device to include Soli technology was the Google Pixel 4 smartphone, and it accepts very simple gestures through the feature, called Motion Sense. For example, you can wave your hand to skip a song, snooze an alarm, or silence an incoming call. However, Soli technology hasn’t been found in Pixel phones since.
While some believe Soli tech integration would have been useful for the Google Pixel Tablet, allowing for hands-free gesture controls while it’s docked on the included charging speaker dock, Google did not include it. It’s possible this was a move to keep costs down, or simply a decision to simplify construction, believing most customers would not use it. Nonetheless, you won’t find Soli technology in the Pixel Tablet.
With that said, you can use simple gestures to control some things, though the gestures still require on-screen taps. Go to Settings, System, Gestures, and System navigation. From there, you can set it to use swipe gestures on the screen to access the Taskbar, switch among apps, or move forward or backward on pages; or add a Taskbar to the bottom of the screen with buttons you can tap to go back, return to home, or switch among apps. The sensitivity is adjustable as well. But this isn’t true gesture navigation without touching the screen at all.
A smart home hub
The Google Pixel Tablet can be used on the go like any other tablet, but it’s differentiating feature is the charging speaker dock that makes it a perfect at-home smart home control device as well. But one feature that’s noticeably missing is Google’s Soli tech. If you want the capabilities of gesture controls through a permanent device on your nightstand or side table, opt for the Google Nest Hub instead.
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Christine Persaud has been writing about tech since long before the smartphone was even a "thing." When she isn't writing, she's working on her latest fitness program, binging a new TV series, tinkering with tech gadgets she's reviewing, or spending time with family and friends. A self-professed TV nerd, lover of red wine, and passionate home cook, she's immersed in tech in every facet of her life. Follow her at @christineTechCA.
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