Project Tango

Project Tango

Google’s Project Tango


Google have created a 5” prototype phone which creates a map of the local environment while tracking 3D movements. This is a fully location-aware phone, which could lead to a host of exciting projects. Samuel Fry explains more about the potential of this software.

Location-aware Phone

Put simply, the aim of Project Tango is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.

Google explain that humans use visual cues to navigate and understand the world around us. That we observe the size and shape of objects and rooms, and that we learn their position and layout almost effortlessly over time. They go on to explain that our awareness of space and motion is fundamental to the way we interact with our environment and each other; however, our mobile devices assume that physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen.

Google believe that “We can build it faster together”. As a result, over the past year, their team have worked with universities, research labs, and industrial partners spanning nine countries to bring together the best research from the last decade of work in robotics and computer vision. They have put these technologies into a mobile phone. Now, they are ready to put early prototypes into the hands of developers to see what imaginative creations they develop.

5 Inch Phone

Their current prototype is a 5” phone. This contains customized hardware and software which tracks the full 3D motion of the device. At the same time, the phone creates a map of its environment. The phone has a number of sensors which allow it to make over a quarter million 3D measurements every second which turns that data into a single 3D model of the space around you.

Java, C++ and Android

The phone runs on Android and includes development tools to show how to make the software work together. The software provides position, orientation, and depth data and is written in the coding languages Java and C/C++. All of this is still in development, so Google want to find creative developers who can experiment with these devices.

3D

So, what could this technology create?

Well, this software remembers and stores useful information about spaces. Say you were a furniture designer, or a theatre designer, you could capture the dimensions of your space by walking around with your phone before you went to pick up furniture? Similarly, you would never need to be lost again if you found yourself in a new building? Plus, a number of developers are also looking into how you can play a variety of virtual games in real spaces.

Developers

For those developers out there. Google are looking for professional developers with dreams of creating more than a touch-screen app. These devices were built with the unique ability to sense 3D motion and geometry and they want to find partners who can push the technology forward and build amazing user experiences.

With 200 prototype dev kits out there, I hope that those that are given the software will be imaginative and artistic. Google have allocated some of these devices for projects in indoor navigation/mapping, single/multiplayer games that use physical space, and new algorithms for processing sensor data. But through the arts, there must be even more possibilities. Perhaps you will be the one to create them.

This video shows Project Tango in more detail:

 

For more information, visit the Google’s Project Tango website.

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