BluFlux partners with Google on hand-gesture sensor

LOUISVILLE — Google has selected Louisville-based BluFlux as a partner in the development of a sensor that uses radar technology to capture movements of the human hand.

BluFlux, which provides RF engineering antenna design, created the prototype of the antenna for Project Soli, the interaction sensor for wearable and Internet of Things devices being developed by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group.

BluFlux was launched in March 2014 with funding from OtterBox parent Blue Ocean Enterprises. The company’s facility in Louisville has the only RF testing chamber between the Mississippi River and San Diego. The company is investing in development of wearable technology, which Business Insider predicted would be worth $12.6 billion by 2018.

The Project Soli sensor can track sub-millimeter motions with high speed and accuracy. It fits onto a chip and can be built into small devices and everyday objects. The goal of the project is to capture the movements and gestures of the human hand to interact with various devices.

“If you can imagine having a mobile phone, a wearable device or a radio or mp3 player, and you could just push your thumb and index finger together and turn the volume up and down,” a BluFlux spokesman said.

BluFlux contributed to the design of two different radar sensor antennas and delivered working antenna prototypes of one of the early Project Soli sensors.

“The BluFlux team demonstrated our ability to keep up and work creatively with the ATAP team’s famously accelerated pace,” said BluFlux president and founder Ben Wilmhoff in a media statement. “It was an honor to work with such a sharp and innovative team on the development of a sensor that will change how we interact with wearables, Internet of Things and many other connected devices.”

Earlier this year, the company patented what it said is the world’s first cellphone case that increases antenna signal while reducing the radiation users receive from everyday use of those phones.