Ripple, an open standard of protocols for incorporating radar capabilities into consumer products, was launched by Google at CES 2022. Ford, Texas Instruments, and Blumio, a blood sensor manufacturer, are already on board.
For the time being, Ripple is being hosted by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which aims to “promote hardware/software compatibility and expedite the growth of applications for general-purpose consumer radar.”
According to 9to5Google, the endeavour is the result of Google’s Advanced Technology & Projects (ATAP) team, which was previously responsible for Project Soli – the small radar technology found in the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, as well as the second-generation Nest Hub.
Those Google gadgets showed off some of the capabilities of radar components, such as detecting hand gestures above a phone and monitoring your movements while sleeping without the usage of a wearable. Even inside Google’s hardware family, however, the technology hasn’t been extensively used.
Ripple should make it easy for other manufacturers and software developers to join the initiative, and semiconductor companies Infineon and NXP have already committed to it. It’s unclear how long it will be before we see new devices as a result of Ripple.
If you’ve ever used a Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL, you’ll know that the smartphone’s motion-sensing radar module can be really handy — not only for recognizing gestures but also for detecting when the device is being moved and about to be picked up (alarms can get quieter as you reach your hand over to switch them off, for instance).
Despite making sounds that it was still invested in the technology for the long term, Google didn’t incorporate the same features in the Pixel 5 or Pixel 6 phones. However, radar-powered sensing was included in the most recent Nest Hub, allowing it to track your sleep from the side of the bed.
The Ripple team offers non-invasive wellness monitoring, building occupancy detection, human activity recognition (for everything from tracking exercise to detecting falls), and touchless gesture controls as possible uses. It might also enable driving assistance systems inside cars, according to The Verge.
Most of these capabilities can be achieved using cameras and other sensors, but tiny radar provides advantages in terms of speed and accuracy that other methods cannot match. Radar components are now developed on a one-off, bespoke basis, something Ripple hopes to change.
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