Soli chip explained: Why there’s a radar on the Pixel 4
October 20, 2019

We explain the new trend in smartphones.

Google’s newest smartphone, the Pixel 4, was officially unveiled last week. Aside from the usual internal and camera upgrades, the Pixel 4 included one new feature that wasn’t seen before on a smartphone – a radar chip. This chip is one of the primary components of Motion Sense, a feature that’s exclusive to the Pixel 4. It allows you to control your smartphone without having to touch the screen – this can be in the form of a wave to change tracks or swipe through images on your gallery.

It’s a fun concept, though companies have already experimented with similar technologies before. If you remember the LG G8, it uses a camera to determine a gesture that your finger is doing which can then translate to a command that can be understood by the phone. Google takes this further by using a radar chip called Soli to make motion tracking more accurate.

The radar is also part of the new face unlock system that the Pixel 4 now uses (it no longer has a fingerprint sensor), but it’s not needed to unlock the smartphone. The radar will alert the smartphone if you’re close by or if someone has picked up the device so it will start scanning even before you hold it up to your face. This is why the Pixel 4 can scan faces faster than other devices that use the same biometric function.

When it was first unveiled, Motion Sense on the Pixel 4 aims to let you browse your smartphone without ever having to pick it up. Though at the moment, the apps that support it at launch are limited. It will get better over time that’s for sure and hopefully with even better implementation.

The addition of a radar chip is definitely something new on a smartphone, and this adds to an increasing list of sensors that have now become part of such devices. It’s an awesome trend that’s for sure, which justifies the whole ‘smart’-phone aspect of it. I just hope that support from more apps will be implemented soon.

Google clearly has more plans about the radar chip on the Pixel 4 – but what those plans are is still a blur at the moment. Hopefully, the radar sensor won’t just be another feature that wouldn’t be utilized by developers and should be something that will give the smartphone a more standout feature.

by Victor Philip Ortiz
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff. Passionate for all things tech - you’ll normally find him tinkering with the latest gadgets and computer peripherals. He is an avid collector of Blu-ray discs and occasionally plays on his Xbox.
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