Google has been known to always be working internally on a vast array of projects that span multiple categories. They even have their own secret facility where all of these projects take place, called Google X, which is where projects like Google Glass have emerged from. Another one of these projects is Project Tango. We have known about Tango for a while now, as one of the upcoming new types of technology that Google believes will drive smart devices into the future, but what is it all about, and what’s the deal with this Tango tablet?
Project Tango is a bold project that relies on advanced and precise 3D sensors to work. It basically marries a bunch of sensors into a unified platform, and by combining them all into a single device, Google believes they will be able to do amazing things. Watching the demos, they are right: Tango devices have sensors that enable real-time 3D mapping and real-time position tracking. This means that, in theory, your device could actually map the environment you are in using these sensors, and build a virtual replica of the space with reasonable accuracy. From there, the possibilities are endless: you could use it as a way to create a 3D model for a game or application, you could use it for precise navigation, seeing as what’s on the screen accurately reflects real-life, you could use it for augmented reality apps, and so on. You can see a captured 3D model off of a Tango device by following this link.
Some of the examples shown in the demos reflect these capabilities: people are shown walking around Google with their Tango device accurately mapping their surrounding environment and precisely pinpointing where the user is in that environment. The sensors seem to map ahead and also show what’s behind the user, and update in real-time, not only the user position but also the surroundings. Examples shown in the demos include the device accurately mapping the stairs and showing the user’s position as they climb in real time, and all sorts of augmented reality things using the camera to correctly lay out 3D terrain on the device’s screen. You can see this and more in the video below:
Alongside this, Google has also just announced that the Tango development tablet will be available for sale later this year for $1024. This seems like the same move pulled when Google Glass was announced, and a great way to draw interest and beta test these devices, as the hefty price tag keeps most of us at bay. The specs of the tablet, however, are already known, and I can say that for the price, you are indeed getting you money’s worth when it comes to specs as this beast of a device carries an amazing Tegra K1 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of flash storage and LTE, all coupled with a 7″ screen. This, of course, in addition to all the new 3D sensors and technology that makes this all possible, showcased in the video below:
You can check out Project Tango and get an e-mail when the tablet is finally being sold by signing up on the official Project Tango webpage. There’s already a good amount of information available over there and if you’re a developer intrigued by the possibilities of these new sensors, it couldn’t hurt to check it out, even if you cannot afford the development tablet. It’s still Android based and a cool new platform for developers to toy around and experiment with, and it’s very likely that this technology will become mainstream in the next few years.
In the demonstration videos showing off the capabilities of Project Tango, the point seems to be made that all of this is building towards integration with smartphones, which makes the fact that the first development Tango device is a tablet a bit of a surprise. However, it also makes sense in some respects: there is no need to worry about miniaturization, heat dispersion and apps developed for the tablet should work across all devices anyway, in the end. While I’m sure not many of us will get the chance to ever get one of these in hand for the time being, it seems like amazing technology and the sensors seem robust and precise enough to make this technology available to the general public at a more convenient price in the near future. I wonder if we might see a bit more of Tango at I/O this month? In the meantime, fell free to leave any questions or comments in the section below!