What the Tech?! Project Tango

Google’s Project Tango experiment made a surprise appearance at the Mobile World Congress this week. It is not a tango-ing robot (but they should make that, just for kicks).

What the Tech?! Project Tango
Project Tango
An experimental Google smartphone with a number of cameras and vision sensors that can create 3D maps of the spaces surrounding it. Tango was announced earlier in February, and the physical prototype was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress this week. The device has sensors that read the room with hundreds of thousands of measurements per second to create functional 3D models in real-time. It’s similar to the technology NASA used on the Mars Rover to map the Red Planet, but optimized for your smartphones.

There are a ton of cool possible uses for the future of Project Tango — which is just a codename while the technology develops. 3D mapping could make measuring your home, navigating new buildings or huge stores and imaginative gaming a snap. Adding Tango technology to Google Maps would extend your travel inside the building, should you end up somewhere huge and maze-like, or be at a large and difficult to navigate conference. It could potentially allow shoppers to enter big box or department stores with an item in mind, and be directed quickly and easily to the aisle or shelf where it can be found. With room mapping on top of the incredible developments in augmented reality, your hallway could become a walking bridge across shark-infested water or your bathroom a war-time bunker. The technology could also greatly help the visually impaired to navigate unfamiliar spaces through alerts and vibrations.

Project Tango is in purely exploratory stages today. The creators’ goal is to create technology that has a “human-scale understanding of space and motion.” Phones with Tango will ship to a select 200 or so developers, who will start dreaming up other innovative uses, beyond what Google has speculated.

Check out the official video below to see more about where Tango came from and where Google hopes it will go.