With Project Tango, Google hopes to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.
The current Tango prototype is a 5” phone containing customized hardware and software designed to track the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment. These sensors allow the phone to make over a quarter million 3D measurements every second, updating it’s position and orientation in real-time, combining that data into a single 3D model of the space around you.
The device runs Android and includes development APIs to provide position, orientation, and depth data to standard Android applications written in Java, C/C++, as well as the Unity Game Engine. These early prototypes, algorithms and APIs are still in active development.
"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?" a Google rep wrote in a blog post introducing the project.
"What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? Imagine playing hide-and-seek in your house with your favorite game character, or transforming the hallways into a tree-lined path."
Google says it is currently looking for professional developers with dreams of creating more than a touch-screen app, as the devices were built with the unique ability to sense 3D motion and geometry.
"We want partners who will push the technology forward and build great user experiences on top of this platform. Currently, we have 200 prototype dev kits," the rep added.
Google has allocated some of these devices for projects in the areas of indoor navigation/mapping, single/multiplayer games that use physical space and new algorithms for processing sensor data. The company has also set aside units for applications it hasn't thought of yet and is currently soliciting ideas for future development.