Google's Project Tango smartphone maps the world in 3D
By Nicole Kobie
Posted on 21 Feb 2014 at 08:58
Google researchers have created a smartphone that sees and understands the world in 3D - and can map its environment in real-time.
Project Tango, as the work has been dubbed, hopes to "give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion," said researcher Johnny Lee.
"Our team has been working with universities, research labs, and industrial partners spanning nine countries around the world to harvest research from the last decade of work in robotics and computer vision, concentrating that technology into a unique mobile phone," Lee said in a Google+ post. "Now, we’re ready to put early prototypes into the hands of developers who can imagine the possibilities and help pull those ideas into reality."
The researchers have mocked up a phone using the technology, which features bespoke components, specialised cameras and sensors. It can track the full 3D motion of its movement, creating a map or model of the environment it's moving through by capturing more than a quarter of a million 3D measurements a second.
Why would we need our smartphones to see and understand as we do? Lee suggested such technology would help with giving directions, especially inside buildings, and could be used to find items in a store, take measurements and to assist blind people. Plus, it opens up new possibilities for gaming.
"Imagine playing hide-and-seek in your house with your favourite game character," Lee said. "Imagine competing against a friend for control over physical space with your own miniature army."
While Project Tango is still an early prototype, and the APIs remain in "active development", Google wants developers to get involved and start creating apps.
To that end, it's doling out 200 prototype development kits by 14 March. Interested developers can apply here.
Project Tango is the first work to come out of Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group.
Sundar Pichai, the head of Android, said ATAP was made up of a "small band of makers and believers", who will "continue exploring the future of computing and where it's headed".
"The goal is to accelerate the development of promising technology in the hope of advancing the entire ecosystem," he explained in a Google+ post.
Is your business a social business? For helpful info and tips visit our hub.
- 20 years of PC Pro: our greatest review mistakes
- 20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List
- Wikipedia's "right to be forgotten" protest hits the wrong note
- 3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies
- 20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy