Google Little Signals: Smart objects with unique ambient patterns

Google’s latest smart home devices is an army of tiny objects called Little Signals. All six peculiar objects are a family of concept models with each having unique functions, but altogether with one goal of making subtle signals inside your home.


  • Google launched the Little Signals project that aims to provide digital wellbeing.
  • The project includes six device concepts of future smart home objects.
  • Users can create their own smart object through the available study guides.

Under the digital wellbeing experiments section, Little Signals is a Google project co-designed with Map Project Office. While adapting to surroundings, each Little Signal has its own sensual design and practical features on how to catch the user’s attention when there is available information or notification. Google says that the objective is based on Calm Technology on which it blends digital information while maintaining calmness in the environment comparable to a wall clock.

Each smart Little Signal object has unique functions

Additionally, the initiative is to keep the users connected to the different digital content, similar to what a basic smart home device can do. For example, the Air object uses pulses of air to move nearby objects around its area in order to alert you if it is time to water the plants or someone is at your door delivering a package. There are countless ways the users could program each object depending on the physical patterns the object could produce.

Google Little Signal Smart Object Rhythm Air Shadow Button Movement Tap
Air and Rhythm smart objects from Google’s Little Signals project. / © Map Project Office

Perhaps, the most functional device in the project is the Button because it combines visual and sound cues to create patterns. The Button works both as a digital input device and a physical notification hub that produces gentle sounds. The cap’s height adjusts according to the amount of information that has arrived. Twisting the button in the left or right direction can also give a command to the object.

The Tap is a simple cylinder with a swinging hand, but it can generate different levels of sound by tapping an object or surface. There are also different levels of taps with the stronger one means more important news. Using the Tap to remind you to take your medicine is also possible as long as it is positioned adjacent to the object.

Google Little Signal Smart Object Rhythm Air Shadow Button Movement Tap
Both Button and Tap objects use mechanical patterns and sounds to notify users. / © Map Project Office

Moreover, the Movement object conveys messages with the use of several pegs. Each stick can represent information such a timer or an input to a command. Either way, the pegs will work individually or as a group.

Lastly, Shadow is like a smart lamp that communicates through the amount and flow of shadow it casts. On the other hand, Rhythm is a smart speaker similar to Echo Dot and Nest Audio but plays different ambient sounds to notify the users. It can also be controlled by a wave gesture or by flipping it over.

Google Little Signal Smart Object Rhythm Air Shadow Button Movement Tap
Shadow and Rhythm are like smart lamp and speaker, respectively, but rely on ambient patterns. / © Map Project Office

Although these smart Little Signal objects may not entirely replace standalone smart home devices in the future. Google, however, could integrate some different functions to their future Nest products one way or another.

Which of the Little Signals devices do you think has the most useful features you are looking forward to seeing on an actual smart home product? Hit us in the comment section.

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