Project Tango: Google unveils 3D-smartphone - video

Feb 21, 2014

New Google motion-tracking device codenamed Project Tango could help blind people navigate

GOOGLE unveiled a new phone that can sense and record three-dimensional environments, opening up new possibilities for mapping, virtual-reality gaming and applications for the blind.

The phone mobile, codenamed Project Tango, was released this week to a small group of developers who Google hopes will create new software for the device.

Tango was designed by Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group - a team the tech company inherited when it took over Motorola in 2011.

The project was devised in collaboration with universities, research labs and industrial partners "to harvest the last ten years of research in robotics and computer vision [and] concentrate that technology into a very unique mobile phone", explains Johnny Lee, leader of Project Tango in a video released on YouTube.

The device is described by Google as "an exploration into giving mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion".

What will it do?

In the release video, Google demonstrates a range of possible applications for the device, from allowing users to incorporate their living room into video games, to helping visually impaired people navigate with the assistance of audio cues from the phone.

"Imagine playing hide-and-seek in your house with your favourite game character, or transforming the hallways into a tree-lined path," says Google on its Project Tango web page. "Imagine competing against a friend for control over territories in your home with your own miniature army, or hiding secret virtual treasures in physical places around the world."

How does it work?

The handset is equipped with a motion-tracking camera and depth sensors to record movement through the physical world, the Wall Street Journal reports. "The five-inch phone has components that make more than a quarter million measurements every second, updating its position and orientation to create a 3D model of the space and objects around the user."

At the moment the phone has only been released to developers, but Google has invited people who think they may have an innovative application for the device to apply via its official website.

"The future is awesome," Lee says. "We can build it together".

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