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Google thinks summoning a poltergeist could be a good way to notify you

Your future smart home gadget might cast shadows or blow air when you have a notification.

Published onApril 15, 2022

  • Google’s Little Signals experiment imagines a variety of weird ways to notify users.
  • These methods include blowing air, casting shadows, and more.

Notifications usually arrive on our devices in the form of a chime, vibration, or LED flash (aside from the standard alert in the notification shade). But Google reckons there are a few more ways to deliver notifications.

The company has announced its so-called Little Signals experiment (h/t: Android Police), teaming up with Map Project Office to showcase six gadgets that each have their own way of notifying users. Some of the standout gadgets and methods include a device that blows air (e.g. blowing your pot plant’s leaves), a gadget capable of casting a small shadow, and a device with a plastic arm that taps on a surface like a knock.

The other gadgets and methods include a device with a series of pegs that can raise and lower themselves (akin to a bar graph), a device that generates ambient sounds, and a button that grows as it receives notifications.

Would you buy a gadget with any of these notification methods?

159 votes

A few of these alert types are also able to convey when notifications are more pressing or when you’ve received plenty of notifications. For example, the button will continue to grow as it receives notifications that go unacknowledged, while the device that plays ambient sounds will change its melody based on “importance, urgency, and tone.”

Some of these methods are pretty out-there, but we could see a future Nest speaker being equipped with shadow-casting or air-blowing functionality if Google figures out more use-cases for the technology.

Would you buy a smart home gadget with any of these notification methods? Let us know via the poll above.

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