Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group has unveiled their latest brainchild, a prototype smartphone called Project Tango that will open the way for Android phones to experiment with 3D sensors, scanning and mapping.
The 5″ phone is being released with the advanced sensors standard, as well as a developer’s kit. It is hoped that with some innovative developers playing around with the new tech, they will find ways to improve indoor navigation and immersive gaming experiences to a significant degree.
Project Tango is partnering with Movidius, using a Myriad 1 processing chip for its 3D sensors. This has been a rumor circulating for awhile, but this is the first time it has ever been confirmed.
Google themselves are extremely optimistic about the future of the technology. On their official website, they wax lyrical about the many applications such sensors could potentially have.
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?
Imagine playing hide-and-seek in your house with your favorite game character, or transforming the hallways into a tree-lined path. 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?
That all sounds really cool, though we are not nearly there yet. A mere prototype, this is the first time such computing capabilities have been applied to a smartphone. Even on a computer, it is a new and experimental feature that hasn’t started to reach its potential.
It does show that Google is thinking big, however. And their decision to open the smartphone up to developers is a great one. If you are interested in taking part in this project yourself, you can start sending in proposals to the ATAP now. They want professional developers who have a mind for “indoor navigation/mapping, single/multiplayer games that use physical space, and new algorithms for processing sensor data.”
While those ideas will get preference for a bulk of their 200 available models and dev kits, they are also open to other suggestions. So don’t be afraid to branch out.