Best of Google I/O 2015: ATAP Projects

Google is one of those companies which make technology better for everyone instead of just making money out of it. With this thinking, every year, Google holds a worldwide developer conference named Google I/O. This year, we saw a lot of consumer products on the Keynote, even Android M was announced as a preview for supported Nexus devices and the best Cloud storage for Photos, Google Photos was announced as well. But, what Google did not announce on the big stage at the Keynote is even more interesting. Google has a secretive division called ATAP, Advanced Technologies And Projects. As the name suggests, this group works on advanced technologies which might come in use in the future. Read that statement again, and notice the “might” word used. That’s right, Google says that these projects may or may not be useful for commercial use, but definitely take the technology forward as we know it.

This year, Google kept the ATAP projects away from the Keynote limelight and announced them on the Day 2 of Google I/O. Here’s all you need to know about them, starting with the new projects announced this year.

Project Jacquard

Jacquard means “facilitate the weaving of figured and brocaded fabrics” according to Google, and in this case the ATAP project is not very much different. Let’s watch a video before going into detail.

Project Jacquard makes it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into any textile using standard, industrial looms. Everyday objects such as clothes and furniture can be transformed into interactive surfaces. That’s right, Google has made a different kind of cloth/fibre which allows touch based gestures on it. Now, this is technology moving forward.

This is still an early stage prototype  in the Google’s ATAP labs and no specific details are available. You can read more about it here: Project Jacquard on Google ATAP.

Project Soli

Even before I say something about it, let’s watch a video.

Soli is a new single-chip solution for detecting finger-level motion and gestures. Soli is fundamentally a different approach to conventional solutions like capacitive touch screens which lack the ability to detect 3D motion and camera movement detection systems like Kinect which cannot accurately detect fine motion such as finger movements. Project Soli uses a 60 GHz radio, which has a sufficiently high frequency that it is relatively reflective with sufficient resolution to detect fine motion. This allows them to use life-like gestures to do things on devices which were never possible before.

Again, currently no specific details are available about Project Soli from the Google’s ATAP Division.

Project Vault

Google aims to completely replace passwords as we know it today. From the Google’s ATAP division, Project Vault is doing just that. Project Vault is a fully contained secure computing environment for any platform. Project Vault packs a digital security system into a microSD card, which phones and computers usually recognize as a storage device. Vault is basically a secure device which is capable of secure user data on any device.

Google will first develop the technology for enterprise companies. The idea is that if it meets the high bar of big companies, it will meet the standards of consumers as well. There’s already an open-source development kit available for developers to test the workings of such a system.

Although Google has made a working prototype of the device which they use internally at Google, no physical developer kit is available for the public to consume.

Project Ara

Google has been working on making the dream of Modular Smartphones a reality since last year under the ATAP group. They have previously shown quite a few version of the device in partially running state. But this year, Google changed it all. They demoed a fully working model. They flipped a camera module onto the smartphone right in front of the audience and took a picture. Image yourself doing that, it could be reality very soon.

Google has demoed the newest version of Ara on stage but they say that the product is still not complete for the consumers. They have made no more details available for now, and no new Developer Kits are available. However, you can still buy the previous MDK available on their website.

Project Tango

Google announced this 3D mapping project last year at Google I/O 2014. Since then, it has gained a lot of improvements. Project Tango was previously only available in a Tablet form, with a very specific hardware but now Google is working with Qualcomm to make Project Tango available in smartphone form as well.

The aim of the project is still the same, but now Google has made the Developers Kit available for purchase on their website. If you are interested, you can buy one here.


Sundar Pichai from Google said that ATAP is a group that aims to make technology move forward instead of just making products that make money for them. With these project on-board, this statement clearly makes sense.

Let us know in the comments section about which ATAP project did you like the most!


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