With smartphones featuring ever more advanced sensors that can track everything from the user’s orientation to the acceleration, we have to really wonder what the next big thing in sensors will be. The answer to that could be Google’s new Project Tango, an initiative that effectively wants smartphones of the future to have eyes. What that means is that smartphones of the future will have mini Kinects in them, and that will obviously result in some awesome applications.
The smartphone that will kick off Project Tango is a custom 5 inch device that has a host of visual sensors and special visual processing units. At the back of the prototype Tango smartphone, there’s a 4 megapixel camera, a depth-sensing module and a motion tracking camera. All of these combined with the custom visual processing units give the Tango the ability to scan a room in full 3D.
Now obviously, this could have some amazing applications. And that’s exactly what Google is hoping for. There are 200 developer kits waiting to be shipped to deserving developers, and they’ll all be taken up by 14th of March 2014. If you’re a developer you can apply for one by filling out this form. Just be sure you’ve got a pretty good use for the Tango smartphone, because Google won’t be handing them out willy-nilly. There’s a good chance the top developers on the Play Store will snag them, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
The applications of Project Tango could be pretty game-breaking and industry changing. The most obvious ones come from gaming and navigation. The advanced 3D scanning capabilities could be put to some creative uses in games, much like augmented reality. Developers could also make use of the scanners and create detailed 3D maps of buildings, which users can then navigate with pinpoint accuracy, with the smartphone guiding them.
Of course there are apps already on the market that will help you navigate closed spaces but the detail at which Tango could do it is really unprecedented. Just imagine taking measurements of your rooms by just by walking in them. Apps could also be made to scan rooms and then place virtual objects in the spaces, thus making shopping for decorative items much easier. There really are just an infinite number of uses for Project Tango and we cant wait enough for these devices to hit retail stores. Of course, that won’t be happening anytime soon but it’s good to see that companies like Google haven’t just started relaxing on their successes.