In a YouTube video and blog post, Google revealed that its upcoming Pixel 4 smartphone will feature face unlock technology and a feature called “Motion Sense,” which confirms that it will have a Project Soli chip that uses radar to detect hand gestures near the phone. The Verge reports: Adding face unlock puts the Pixel 4 on par with modern iPhones for unlocking, and it’s (at least in theory) more convenient than an in-screen fingerprint sensor. Google also confirmed that the Pixel 4 will use the face unlock feature for payments: “face unlock works in almost any orientation — even if you’re holding it upside down — and you can use it for secure payments and app authentication too.” As with the iPhone, Google says that biometric data will be stored locally in a secure chip and never share with other Google services. The Pixel 4’s face unlock feature will use a variety of sensors to identify your face, including depth, infrared, and RGB. That should mean that it will work in a variety of lighting situations and also work with a diverse set of faces. Google has told me that it has done “field research” to ensure both of those things.
As for the “Motion Sense” feature, there’s not a ton that we can glean from Google’s article. Earlier rumors have pointed to it being related to Project Soli, which uses radar to detect tiny hand or finger movements above the device. For example, Google has demoed rubbing your thumb and index finger together to simulate turning a dial on a smartwatch. Some code found in the next version of Android has suggested it could be used for media controls at the very least. Google’s post cites a possible use case where the Soli chip could detect your hand reaching for the phone, which would automatically turn on “the face unlock sensors.” If it all works, the phone would automatically unlock itself and be ready by the time you’re looking at it.