Google Wants to Eliminate Notification Anxiety with 'Ambient Notifications'

Moving shadows and puffs of air over chimes and rings.

Imad Khan Senior Reporter
Imad is a senior reporter covering Google and internet culture. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with The New York Times, The Washington Post, ESPN, Tom's Guide and Wired, among others.
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Imad Khan

Experiments with Google Tap concept.


If Slack's popping notification sound induces PTSD, then Google's latest concept might help alleviate notification anxiety. 

Experiments with Google quietly revealed a new type of notification system for smart home devices last week titled Little Signals. The concept removes bells and chimes and instead opts for more ambient ways of notifying users, like using moving shadows, physical taps or puffs of air. 

Google created six concept devices that mimic everyday objects such as the moving hands of a clock or the whistle of a kettle. Google refers to this an ambient computing, which engages with senses in more subtle and nuanced ways. One concept has an arm that clinks against the glass of a bottle of medicine, letting users know it's time to take their prescription. 

Experiments with Google showcases projects made with teams at Google and external collaborators. Experiments sometimes feature Google products, such as Chrome or Android. Recent experiments include a manga character creator, an MRI of the Earth, which is an artistic rendering of damage done to our planet and a 3D deep-dive of the Timbuktu manuscripts

At the moment, this seems to be only a concept. On Google's site, there's no indication when or if smart home devices using ambient cues will come out.