Google has unveiled a new Android prototype smartphone called Project Tango that is built around 3D mapping.
Google wants to develop an altogether new kind of smartphone.
The one that can see your environment just like you can. And no, this isn’t a new version of Android, at least not yet.
What it is in fact, a new experimental Android smartphone prototype that is built around 3D mapping and Google is calling it the Project Tango.
“The goal of Project Tango is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion,” Johnny Lee, who leads Google’s Project Tango team, said in a video on the project site.
The 5-inch Android smartphone prototype is equipped with Kinect-like 3D sensors and other components to track motion and map your surroundings. Unlike other 3D-sensing devices including Kinect, Project Tango includes the Myriad 1 vision processor from Movidius, which allows for advanced motion and depth tracking without sucking a ton of power.
Google has confirmed that this new project has been incepted in its ATAP division – which is short for Advanced Technology and Projects that has been in development for over a year. And now Google is ready to share the project with 200 lucky developers that will be given the opportunity to create new apps to take advantage of its awesome features.
“Over the past year, 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. Now, we’re ready to put early prototypes into the hands of developers that can imagine the possibilities and help bring those ideas into reality.” Johnny Lee said.
The prototype device will be made available to a few chosen developers on March 14 and interested parties can apply to develop for the Project Tango phone on the project’s website.
Developers should cook up some ideas for the Project Tango quickly though, since out of the available 200 development kits, some of them have already been allocated to navigation, mapping, gaming and sensor data processing projects, according to Johnny Lee.
Specs-wise, the prototype phone features a 5-inch display, 4 megapixel camera and motion tracking camera on the back, two computer vision processors, depth sensors and contains ‘customised hardware and software designed to track the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment. With the help of sensor and camera, the phone can make over a quarter of million 3D measurements every second, “updating its position and orientation in real-time.” The device also comes loaded with developer tools such as APIs, which “provide position, orientation and depth data to standard Android applications written in Java, C/C++,” Lee said.
The Project Tango though still under development, previews the future of a smartphone and has paved the future direction for smart mobile vision systems. And rest assured the Project Tango will have the world waiting to see the innovations coming out of Google’s developer community.