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Google’s Project Tango Allows Phones To Map And Understand Their Surroundings

By Kevin Thomas on 24th February 2014

Google Project Tango

Google’s never been scared to experiment and innovate. Its self-driving cars, Google Glass and even Android are all testament to that and now it’s working on something new, currently known as Project Tango.


Project Tango is being developed by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, which is one of the few parts of Motorola that the tech giant chose not to sell. The project aims to allow smartphones to precisely map their surroundings and there’s already a prototype handset which can do this and is being sent off to app developers.


The handset has a 5 inch screen, an integrated depth sensor, a motion tracking camera and two vision processors, which are designed around tracking motion and depth without using too much battery power.


You could think of the technology as being a bit like Microsoft’s Kinect, except more advanced and portable. By being able to accurately map and memorize spaces it could allow a phone to act as a guide for visually impaired users, but its abilities don’t end there. One day it could for example bring directions and navigation inside, so that you never need get lost in a new building and could even for example be navigated through a supermarket to the exact spot on a shelf where the item you’re looking for can be found.


Another possible use is for the phone to get the dimensions of a room in your house before you go furniture shopping, saving you the effort of manually measuring everything out and it could transform augmented reality games too, perhaps transforming your house into an alien world when viewed through the phones screen or allowing you to use virtual armies to compete with a friend for territories in your home.


With Google’s experience in mapping through Google Maps and Street View this is a logical next step and one which will allow electronics to understand our world in almost the same way we do.


With the prototypes being sent out to developers it will soon be up to them to explore the full capabilities of the technology and it’s likely to be a while before Project Tango is used in any commercially available handset, but the potential is enormous, particularly in the fields of navigation and augmented reality.


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