Google Announces Project Tango Smartphone Designed to Track Full 3D Motion

The device can then create a map of the environment thanks to its sensors

Following Motorola's ARA project that focuses on bringing modular smartphones to mass production, Google has announced its own innovative project that plans on adding Kinect-like features to mobile phones.

Project Tango is a 5-inch prototype smartphone that features specifically designed hardware and software, which will allow the device to track its own full 3D motion, while creating a map of the environment.

This is mostly done thanks to the integrated sensors, which allow the phone to make more than a quarter million measurements every second, thus updating its position and orientation in real time.

Then, the smartphone is said to be able to combine that data into a single 3D model of the space around the user of the device.

According to Google, the 5-inch prototype is running a specially tailored version of Android and includes “APIs to provide position, orientation, and depth data to standard Android applications written in Java, C/C++, as well as the Unity Game Engine.”

But what's the practicality of such a device, and why would anyone use it and what for? Google has the answers to these questions, but we're pretty sure the prototypes can be used in even more ways than the search giant explains further.

“What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address?

What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? What if you could search for a product and see where the exact shelf is located in a super-store?”

Ultimately, the goal of Project Tango is “to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion,” concludes Johnny Lee, the ATAP-Project Tango Team leader.

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