Google is testing weird notification concepts that engage with your senses

What you need to know

  • Google has shown off a few novel methods to notify you.
  • These methods include blowing air, shifting shadows, twisting buttons, and other techniques.
  • Google refers to this concept as “Little Signals,” which explores new interaction designs.

Google is reimagining how you interact with technology in your environment, and it’s experimenting with a few objects to demonstrate its new concept of ambient notifications.

The search giant calls this experiment “Little Signals,” something that it’s been toying with since as early as 2019 as part of its ambient computing efforts. It consists of devices that deliver notifications through a variety of sensorial cues, including a puff of air, moving shadows, twisting buttons, taps, and more.

Google has demonstrated a gadget that can raise or lower a series of pegs individually or as a group. There’s also a device that emits ambient sounds once it receives a notification.

Overall, there are six gadgets in the collection: the Air, Button, Movement, Rhythm, Shadow, and Tap.

“Each object has its own method of communicating, like through puffs of air or ambient sounds,” Google said. “Additionally, their small movements or simple controls bring the objects to life and make them responsive to changing surroundings and needs.”

Some of these new types of alerts also have a way to tell when you’ve received an urgent notification. For example, the Rhythm gadget will adjust its melody based on the “importance, urgency, and tone” of the information it conveys. The Button gadget will also keep growing until you acknowledge its notifications.

The new concepts are meant to allow you to enjoy moments of calm while still keeping you in the loop in a less intrusive manner that doesn’t involve blaring a chime or vibrating your device.

It’s not clear for now how Google intends to implement the experiment across some of the best Google Home compatible devices, but it’s not hard to imagine a Nest Hub blowing a cool breeze to grab your attention.

While the experiment is still in its early stages, Google has provided a tutorial to help you materialize the concepts using Arduino, complete with code that you can download from the Experiments with Google website.

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