by Nathan Grizzle
Assistant Lifestyle Editor
“The future is awesome. We can build it faster together.”
It is with these words that Google presented to the world Project Tango on February 20, a smartphone prototype designed to more efficiently map the world around it. According to Google, the goal of Project Tango is “to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.”
Project Tango is still in the research phase. This is not something that is ready to enter the hands of consumers. Similarly to Google Glass, Project Tango is being released in small batches at Google’s discretion. However, Tango is even more exclusive: Google has declared they are only releasing 200 units for the first run.
Project Tango may not look like much more than an ordinary smartphone. Its white, blocky shell and five-inch screen are pretty typical of today’s phones. What makes Project Tango special is what’s on the inside. Crack it open, and you’ll find it is packed with amazing innovations.
The phone is equipped with dual cameras for capturing three-dimensional imagery, as well as sensors that enable it to detect motion and depth. This hardware, and the software built into it, allow it to make over a quarter million measurements a second. The phone can then combine this data to create a 3D map of the world around it in real time.
Prototype devices can sometimes seem to exist with no particular purpose. However, Google offers up some potential real-life applications for Project Tango’s motion-sensing and mapping capabilities.
On the practical side of things, they suggest Project Tango would be a useful tool for measuring physical spaces like rooms. “You could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping,” says Google on their Project Tango webpage.
Another application of indoor mapping is getting indoor turn-by-turn directions, something not possible with current GPS technology. Google suggests this could be used to assist the visually impaired in navigating unfamiliar buildings or direct consumers to a product’s exact location in a very large store.
Of course, with every new technology there is a fun side to things. Google asserts that Project Tango would make an excellent system for augmented reality. Augmented reality is a way of creating an interactive world by projecting computer-generated objects into an on-screen view of the real world.
By viewing the world through Project Tango’s screen, users could turn reality into a game. “[Imagine] transforming the hallways [of your house] into a tree-lined path… or hiding secret virtual treasures in physical places around the world,” says Google’s Project Tango site.
Google describes Project Tango as a “focused exploration of what might be possible in a mobile platform,” and not something ready for release to the general public yet. However, consumers can still be excited for the advances that the technology may bring to the world.
Whether Project Tango reaches consumers in nearly the same form as its prototype, or the three-dimensional sensing technology manifests itself in some other way, we can all agree with Google. The future is awesome.