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Saturday, July 20, 2024
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    HomeTechnologyA mystery Google gadget with 60GHz Soli radar just crossed the FCC

    A mystery Google gadget with 60GHz Soli radar just crossed the FCC

    We’ve been waiting for Google’s tiny radar to fulfill its potential for years. Now, it looks like the company’s at least giving Soli another chance. According to filings at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Google now has a mystery “wireless device” that features the short-range 60GHz radar tech — as well as 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a “base plate” of some kind.

    What could this device possibly be? One early educated guess is that it’s simply a new Nest Thermostat, and that could make sense. The FCC filings don’t show this device having any other radios beyond 2.4GHz and 60GHz; the 2020 Nest Thermostat was similarly light on radios, but it did use Soli radar to automatically detect when you’re in front of the thermostat and light up the display invisibly hidden behind its mirror. It’d also make sense for a thermostat to have a “base plate,” of course, whether wall mountable or possibly even a stand.

    The new device has a “base plate.”
    Image: FCC

    An update to Google’s 2021 Nest Hub, which added Soli radar for sleep tracking, seems less likely — a smart home hub would certainly have a low-power radio tech like Thread or Zigbee to control other smart home gadgets, and there’s no mention of either here. But in 2024, I’d honestly expect any Google smart home gadget to have Thread, so would it really be a thermostat or smoke alarm or that sort of gadget?

    It does seem to be something hardwired, since there’s no mention of batteries — not even the pair of AAA batteries that showed up in the FCC filing for the 2020 Nest Thermostat. Today’s filing shows the new mystery gadget was tested either plugged into AC power (via a “setup box”) or plugged into a USB cable plugged into a laptop. (Early Nest Thermostats do technically have USB ports that can be used for charging.)

    I have a hard time imagining it could be a smart speaker with only 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi, as even Google’s cheapest Nest Mini speakers support the 5GHz band as well.

    Could it possibly be the leaked Pixel Watch 3? One of Google’s earliest tech demos for Soli was in a smartwatch, and Google’s watches don’t use the 5GHz band; 2.4GHz, Bluetooth, and Soli would be enough for a Wi-Fi-only variant of the watch, and the “base plate” could be a charger. But no, Google claims this device will normally be at least 20cm away from a person and didn’t conduct radiation testing for that reason:

    Not a device you’d wear or hold.
    Image: FCC

    That’s similar to what it said about the Nest Thermostat in 2020: “The antenna of this product, under normal use condition, is at least 20cm away from the body of the user. So, this device is classified as Mobile Device.”

    Any FCC sleuths have a better idea? For now, I’m thinking it’s still a mystery.

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