Introducing Project Tango: Google's smartphone that would 3D map your entire home

Google’ Advanced Technology & Projects group has now announced Project Tango.

When Google marked its deal to sell Motorola mobility to Lenovo for $2.9 billion, it ensured that the best division of Motorola – its Advanced Technology and Projects group – would be left behind for the Android team. Google’s Advanced Technology & Projects group has now announced Project Tango with the stated objective of giving "mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion”.


Project Tango is an Android-based prototype 5-inch phone and developer kit with advanced 3D sensors, reports Techcrunch. With the sensors, the phone is capable of tracking motion, and can build a visual map of rooms using 3D scanning. Google wants to combine these 3D sensors with advanced computer vision techniques that will help fork out newer innovations for indoor navigations, games and so on. Looks like Google wants to build something like the Sony Kinect or Playstation Move, into a small 5-inch phone.


Google is using Movidius’ Myriad 1 vision processor platform for Project Tango. These sensors were considered very expensive and difficult to employ earlier. They are reportedly also known to drain the phone’s battery rapidly. However, the new generation vision processors consume significantly lesser power. This is one of the reasons, why Google finally went ahead with this project.


Google is a software company, and with the release of the phone, it also marks Google’s first hardware launch from its Advanced Technology and Projects group. With Project Tango, Google hopes to unlock new kinds of smart, vision-based applications that take advantage of 3D sensing and vision technology that has been preloaded into the phone.


The Project Tango devices will be available for developers so they can play around and build apps related to “indoor navigation/mapping, single/multiplayer games that use physical space, and new algorithms for processing sensor data.” However, initially, select 200 developers will be able to access these phones. Developers will have to give Google some cool app ideas for the device by March 14, 2014. It should be noted that Google is not looking for simply leap-motion based or gesture-based apps.


Besides Project Tango, the company is also working on Project Ara. The project comes with a structural frame that holds smartphone modules of the owner’s choice, such as a display, keyboard or say the battery. The approach allows users to swap out malfunctioning modules or upgrade as new innovations emerge. This also means that the handset can potentially last much longer than normal smartphones do.

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