Google announce Project Tango and prototype for developers

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Google have announced Project Tango, from the Advanced Technology And Products group (ATAP) that Google kept when it sold Motorola to Lenovo.

Project Tango is a prototype Android-powered smartphone that is able to track space in real time. It does this using three cameras, including one specific to motion-tracking and another dedicated to depth perception, and two vision processors from a company called Movidius.

“Our current prototype is a 5” phone containing customized hardware and software designed to track the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment. These sensors allow the phone to make over a quarter million 3D measurements every second, updating it’s position and orientation in real-time, combining that data into a single 3D model of the space around you.”

The benefit to consumers and developers would be to recreate real environments virtually using a single small device. This could help in myriad ways, from cartography to gaming to augmented reality.

“We are physical beings that live in a 3D world, yet mobile devices today assume that the physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen,” says ATAP’s Johnny Lee.

Project Tango is an exploration into giving mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.

What if you never found yourself lost in a new building again? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address? Imagine playing hide-and-seek in your house with your favorite game character. Imagine competing against a friend for control over physical space with your own miniature army.

Google has made available 200 prototype dev kits to “create more than a touchscreen app.”

Project Tango prototypeThe current prototype is a 5” phone containing customized hardware and software designed to track the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment. These sensors allow the phone to make over a quarter million 3D measurements every second, updating its position and orientation in real-time, combining that data into a single 3D model of the space around you.

It runs Android and includes development APIs to provide position, orientation, and depth data to standard Android applications written in Java, C/C++, as well as the Unity Game Engine. These early prototypes, algorithms, and APIs are still in active development. So, these experimental devices are intended only for the adventurous and are not a final shipping product.
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