A short time ago, Google had presented to the world one of its many research projects, which is called “project tango“, which consists of the development of a new technology that allows cell phones and other mobile devices to perceive the world around them in as natural a way as we perceive it. In its first announcement, Google showed the first prototype, which is a cell phone that contains several cameras and sensors that allow it to track the environment around it and generate 3D models of a room in real time.
This week Google has just made a new launch on the Tango project, showing a tablet, with capabilities similar to what had been its first cell phone prototype.
In the same words of Johnny Lee and the ATAP-Project Tango team:
it is that, in our daily lives, we take visual clues of what we see to navigate and understand the world around us. We observe the size and shape of objects in a room and in this way we learn their position and distribution almost effortlessly over time. This awareness of the space that surrounds us is fundamental to the way we interact with each other and with the environment. We are physical beings who live in a 3D world. however our mobile devices assume that the physical world ends at the borders of their screens. The goal of Project tango is to give mobile devices a human understanding of space and movement.
Here is a video that explains in more detail the project and its potential The team has released 2 devices so far (a cell phone and a tablet) which they will be delivering to developers around the world, so that they can exploit the potential of this technology in all areas possible. All sorts of potential uses for this technology have already been seen, such as 3D modeling a room in seconds, or directing a blind person like your guide dog would, or playing games with a capacity for immersion never seen before.
The cell phone is a terminal with a 5-inch screen that runs Android. Its hardware specs have not been fully disclosed, but it is known to contain a front camera that can see up to 120 degrees, and 2 rear cameras that can see 180 degrees together. One of the cameras is 4MP and is dedicated to “seeing” the environment, while the other is dedicated to taking measurements of it, thanks to integrated optical processors that measure depth. Additionally, it has accelerometers and gyroscopes that allow it to measure the position of the phone in space and combine all this information to achieve a real-time model of what is in front of it. This little beast is capable of taking 3-quarters of a million measurements of the 3D environment per second, allowing you to have a fluid model of what you see without lag in processing.
The tablet, on the other hand, has a 7-inch screen, and has been equipped with an NVIDIA Tegra K1 graphics processor, 4 GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. Like its cell phone brother, this tablet has cameras on its back dedicated to measuring the environment. The tablet would have WiFi, 4G LTE and BTLE connectivity.
Here is a video of Google’s presentation of the tablet this week
The path that these teams will follow is already uncertain, but what is clear to us is that they will revolutionize the way we interact with our devices and the environment that surrounds them. Google already has many teams of developers working on Project Tango, looking for creative ways to use this technology. For example, one of them is a project that aims to take this technology to space, to facilitate the work of astronauts on the international space station. You can see here the video where it is shown how they are developing some spheres to which the cell phone prototype has been glued, and the idea is that they can navigate in a zero gravity environment without losing their location in space.
If you liked this Google project, how about you also read about other Google projects: