Google Unveils Ripple, Revitalizing Miniature Radar Technology


Google has recently unveiled Ripple, a pioneering open-source radar API standard which can be implemented in various smart technologies. By making this API open-source, Google has allowed for the customization and incorporation of this radar technology into a broad range of devices beyond its own product line, offering new and transformative opportunities.

Being an open standard indicates that Ripple is accessible for public use and encourages a communal approach towards innovation and design. The goal is to streamline the compatibility between different devices and systems, promoting universal accessibility.

open API software

Ripple represents Google’s endeavor to redefine miniature radar technology.

Google’s Venture into Radar Innovation

On January 7, 2021, Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects team (ATAP) shared their enthusiasm for Ripple on Twitter: “We are excited to work alongside other technical project group members and contribute to the wider technology industry. We invite more companies and developers to collaborate and participate in Ripple.” Google has been developing compact radar chips since 2015 that are highly sensitive and capable of detecting even the most subtle movements, discerning the exact distance, motion, environment, and dimensions of objects.

Radar, which stands for Radio Detection and Ranging, uses electromagnetic waves to identify the proximity, velocity, and size of objects by sending out signals that bounce back upon contact with objects, providing data for the receiver to interpret.

Such radar technology is integral in environments like live weather forecasting, monitoring traffic conditions, and determining ground elevations. Google previously incorporated its Soli radar in products like the Pixel 4 smartphone, Nest Hub (2nd Generation), and Nest thermostats, aiming to increase functionality with the radar’s sensitivity. However, Project Soli did not achieve the expected success.

The Future Implications for You

A universal API standard like Ripple can facilitate developers in creating superior radar solutions, ultimately benefiting consumers through enhanced services and innovative products. Standardized software aligns with greater availability and provides ease of use for developers from varied industries.

In a move to boost the advancement of interoperable software libraries, Google has made Ripple available on GitHub, requiring interested parties to agree to specific terms before contribution. The Consumer Technology Association, which made the announcement regarding Ripple at CES 2022, is currently hosting it.

Apart from uses like non-invasive monitoring of vitals during sleep, as seen in the Nest Hub (2nd Gen), radar technologies can also identify human activity. This capability is essential for advancements in automotive technology, speed regulation, detecting falls, and tracking moves. Ripple is set to potentially transform the interaction between humans and technology through touchless control sensors, expanding its application to a variety of devices and automobiles.

Jim Buczkowski, the head of Ford’s Research and Advance Engineering Team, commented on how a universal API can aid in utilizing interior radar sensors for improving customer experiences beyond Ford’s current driver-assist technologies. Ford aims to leverage radar in advancing system development and refining existing technologies.

Likewise, companies like Amazon are exploring how radar can enhance sleep tracking. Ripple’s ultimate objective is to prioritize consumer needs while equipping developers and researchers with the necessary resources to merge hardware and software efficiently. Most participants in Google’s initiative currently include chip and sensor manufacturers.

While Google continues to progress with its initiative, the participants which include companies like Blumio, Ford, Infineon, NX, and Texas Instruments, it remains to be seen how Ripple will be integrated into devices and shape future technologies.

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