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Google's "Project Tango" Prototype Phone Tackles 3-D Sensor Tech

Possible uses include gaming and indoor mapping.


Google announced a new initiative on Thursday that aims to bring 3-D sensor technology into a new series of prototype Android smartphones.

Dubbed “Project Tango,” the new venture involves a Google-built five-inch phone that includes sensors that track the movement of the device while modeling the space and landscape around it. In essence, it builds 3-D renderings of its surroundings that, perhaps one day, could be used in the mapping of building interiors, according to Google.

The project’s leaders have called for a select group of developers to help and begin building test use cases for the devices, including experimentation in indoor mapping, gaming and work on algorithms that process the sensor data taken in by the device.

“Our goal is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion,” said Johnny Chung Lee, project lead at Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, in a demonstration video.

Google isn’t the first company interested in the 3-D sensor tech space. Late last year, Apple completed its acquisition of Israeli 3-D sensor startup Primesense for about $360 million. Similarly, Intel has shown off reference designs for laptops that could incorporate 3-D camera technology, much like Microsoft’s Kinect device.

Currently, only 200 developer kits are up for grabs; interested parties can apply for Project Tango kits here.

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