Google has just pulled the curtain off Project Tango, the latest innovation to come to us from its Advanced Technology and Projects hardware group (the folks also involved with Project Ara). This device is capable of tracking its movement within an area while creating a 3D map of the environment at the same time. It could be immensely useful for indoor navigation or the creation of highly immersive video games.

This type of functionality isn't unprecedented, but it has typically required more juice than a smartphone could sustain for any given length of time. Thanks to Movidius' Myriad 1 vision processor, Google is able to pull this off without requiring a great deal of power. The prototype device, a 5-inch phone, is also equipped with special sensors capable of making over a couple hundred thousand measurements a second. Together, this is how the magic happens.


Google's looking for developers who are eager to take advantage of this new functionality. It currently has 200 dev kits available, and if your idea is particularly compelling, it may be willing to ship you one. Though, due to FCC restrictions, it's only providing them to incorporated entities or institutions at this time. Keep that in mind before hitting up the link below.

Source: Project Tango

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • http://www.kovdev.com/ kover

    This is some Batman-level technology.

    • Jonathan Bunch

      NSA is going to love this s@#t!

  • http://twitter.com/yo2boy_ yo2boy

    Oh its the guy who helped develop the Kinect.

  • Sean Lumly

    This technology would be PERFECT for mobile VR. Absolute positional tracking (world tracking) would be very useful for detecting where the headset would be. Mix in a 1440p display, and you have something that is uniquely capable at re-creating a see-only holodeck.

    I hope that these mobile sensors can be purchased as separate modules, rather than waiting for them to be standardized in phones.

    • Avalos

      "Absolute positional tracking (world tracking) would be very useful for detecting where the headset would be."

      Navigation with lane information?

      • Sean Lumly

        I'm not sure..

        In the scenario I was describing, the application would be for a Virtual Realty headset made using a mobile device as the screen and the computer. This is similar to the Oculus Rift. Currently you can purchase "mounts" to attach the smartphone to your face (see: Durovis Dive) which accomplishes this goal.

        However, the problem is that these smartphone headsets can only determine which the orientation they are pointing in: up/down, left/right, roll-left/roll-right. But if you move your whole head forward, the smartphones can't track reliably where they are in space, and the display isn't updated accordingly.

        A solution like this would give the smartphone an understanding of where it was in space, and not just its orientation. This is important for convincing virtual reality.

    • Eric Jones

      This should be combined with Oculus Rift to turn the real world into a video game. That way you could go for a walk with Oculus Rift on without running into anything, because it could map virtual realities onto the real world that it maps in real time. You could for example go to a park, and tell it to keep you in the boundaries of the park. As you walked around the park, it could change it into some surreal other world, with aliens, or demons, or whatever running around. You could run around shooting them with a nerf gun, that looks like a real gun inside your game. Or you could go to the track and be chased by zombies that only you could see.

      This could also solve the problem of motion sickness with VR since you would have real movement to go with the VR.

      • Sean Lumly

        I think this sounds like a more practical idea than it is at the present moment. If you have ever worked on computer artwork, there is so much that goes into the creation (or recreation) of a 3D scene, and we are far from doing that on-the-fly with a low-res sensor. It's a neat idea, though.

        Currently the latest publicised OR headset uses an external camera for motion tracking, and supposedly uses it to great effect! I agree that this would provide another alternative.

        • Eric Jones

          What I'm talking about is definitely farther into the future. It's too rudimentary right now. This is the kind of tech that needs to be developed for something like that to work though.

          • Sean Lumly

            Got it. In that case it would be very cool!

  • Justin

    This seems like an interesting consumer facing application for their self-driving car visualization technologies... Neat.

  • naduh

    in the words of Lucius Fox

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      In the words of Morgan Freeman: "That is too damn much text on an already-busy picture. Titty sprinkles."

  • Pal

    I'm sure it does wonders on the battery life!

    Joking aside, I'm excited to finally see some innovation that I didn't see coming. Truly out of left field, maybe beyond what I'd need in a phone, but definitely inspiring.

  • http://www.deathbycone.com Jared Kotoff

    So thats why Google hired Johnny Lee

  • Allwayswrite

    Wasn't Johnny the that hacked the Wii? Damn he's done some good stuff for himself...Good for you buddy....still a fatty though.

  • itsgonnalast

    "Prometheus, we are now... mapping!"

  • Eric

    Oh! Enlightenment t-shirt!

  • John Smith

    couple this with a robot wielding a Machete, and you've got a real threat.

  • Matthew Fry

    Strap this to Google Glass and voila. Seeing-eye glasses for the blind.

    • Sean Lumly

      There's an android app that converts the camera image to sound by sweeping across it periodically (The vOICe -- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=vOICe.vOICe ). It's not a pretty app, but it serves its purpose and you can actually train yourself to see with your ears.

      It is most useful with a head mount and requires a lot of patience.

      It would be useful for the blind.

  • hp420

    As a self-proclaimed Android nerd and Google fanboy, I must own of these! Where can I buy one, and who's wallet do I shove my huge wad of cash into?


    • silaslenz

      The card isn't valid anymore. No Tango for you ;)

      • Justin W

        Don't know that it ever was... Start's with a 6 and Visa's don't.

  • http://youtube.com/coolosertech ThaCooLoser


  • Wayne Randall

    Google's robots are going to kick ass.

    • abobobilly

      Skynet in Manufacturing Phase -.-

  • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

    Self-driving car could see there's an obstacle ahead?

  • legend618

    how's the battery life?

    • Mado

      I'm guessing any amount between 1 second and 1 billion years. I know this because I own an unannounced, completely prototype device that is unavailable to the general public.

  • anmolm97

    This will be the perfect "head" for Google's robots!!

  • Mario E Hdez

    Finally my roomba will stop going in circles.